As an X’s and O’s aficionado, I loved Jayson Tatum’s recent sitdown with ESPN’s Doris Burke, where he was breaking down game footage of what he was seeing on the court and how his decision-making process unfolded.
However, during that interview, there was a fleeting moment where Tatum discussed the Boston Celtics roster and noted how Marcus Smart is his favorite player to share the court with.
“Smart is my favorite person to play with. Super high-IQ basketball player and a great passer. There’s a lot of things that we don’t even have to say, that we’ve done so many times, I know when I come set that screen and hit under, I know he’s capable of making that pass,” Tatum said.
Since entering Boston’s starting lineup last season, Smart has proven himself to be a reliable point guard, capable of initiating a high-level offense, controlling the pace of the game, and being judicial with his shot selection. But, most impressively, Smart has become selfless when it comes to moving the rock and making the right basketball play, something which has been evident throughout the season thus far.
In 46 games so far, Smart has dished out 310 assists, 96 of which have been to Tatum, with a further 92 going to Jaylen Brown. In total, Smart’s dimes have helped the Celtics generate 739 points, 226 of which have come directly from his assists to Tatum.
Impressive numbers for a player many deemed unsuitable for the Celtics' starting point guard role just 18 months ago.
“I definitely did (took it personally) for a multitude of reasons. I was drafted as a point guard. That’s where I made my stand in college, as a point guard. Not only that, just really didn’t get the chance that I thought I deserved, just had to wait my chance, and once I got it, I was ready to take off. It was definitely something that I took personal, I’m constantly taking it personally, and I constantly go out there and try to prove everybody wrong,” Smart said during an exclusive interview on NBA Today.
If you needed any more proof that Smart is indeed a high-level point guard, you need look no further than the Celtics' current roster and the level of talent that is currently playing behind Smart in the rotation.
Both Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon are starting-level guards in the NBA, yet neither has usurped Smart as the defacto starting guard in the rotation. Having been miscast as a combo guard for much of his career, Smart is now thriving in a role that allows him to play to his strengths.
Boston’s success has been built on strong foundations of familiarity, friendship, and trust...and as we all know, everyone in Boston loves and trusts Marcus Smart, even Jayson Tatum.