Smart's Value

Eddie Jurak

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If, truly, Smart shooting a three pointer is your BEST offensive opportunity, then your second unit sucks beyond belief. Late in the shot clock, there's not likely enough time to find a better opportunity. Early in the shot clock? Yeah, you're probably likely to get a better shot.
Things that are probably true about the Celtics' second unit:
  • They have some offensive plays and sets that Stevens wants them to run
  • They have limited experience playing together as a unit, limited experience playing in the NBA at all (lots of rookies and limited experince guys)
  • Due to the schedule, practice time for the second unit is very limited
  • They don't have guys who can create good shots for themselves with any regularity
Put all of that together, and they probably end up having a lot of possessions where the offense breaks down, or gets disrupted by the defense, or whatever. It's been a very bad offensive unit, especially when Rozier wasn't hitting his shots.

Under those circumstances, I think Smart taking an open 3 isn't as bad as it looks. Or, rather, Smart taking an open 3 is as bad as it looks, but the alternative is, at best, not appreciably better. Better the devil you know...

That said, I don't think "sucks beyond belief" is a fair description of a second unit that outscores its opponents, no matter how bad its offensive production is.
 

BaseballJones

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Things that are probably true about the Celtics' second unit:
  • They have some offensive plays and sets that Stevens wants them to run
  • They have limited experience playing together as a unit, limited experience playing in the NBA at all (lots of rookies and limited experince guys)
  • Due to the schedule, practice time for the second unit is very limited
  • They don't have guys who can create good shots for themselves with any regularity
Put all of that together, and they probably end up having a lot of possessions where the offense breaks down, or gets disrupted by the defense, or whatever. It's been a very bad offensive unit, especially when Rozier wasn't hitting his shots.

Under those circumstances, I think Smart taking an open 3 isn't as bad as it looks. Or, rather, Smart taking an open 3 is as bad as it looks, but the alternative is, at best, not appreciably better. Better the devil you know...

That said, I don't think "sucks beyond belief" is a fair description of a second unit that outscores its opponents, no matter how bad its offensive production is.
Yes, I was referring to its offensive capability. Clearly they're very good on defense.
 

Sox Puppet

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Good article about Smart on ESPN today. It makes a rather stunning point: "When Smart shoots 30 percent or worse from the field in a game this season, the Celtics are 11-0. When he shoots better than 30 percent, Boston is a mere 5-4." Apparently this has been the case for a while, that the Celtics' winning record is better when Smart shoots worse, possibly because the bricks make him try even harder to contribute in other ways.

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21589757/nba-more-bricks-better-marcus-smart-celtics
 

Van Everyman

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I was actually going to come here and post something to the effect of “Does anyone else here think it’s a coincidence that the night Marcus puts up 23 the Celtics lose?”

I actually think it may be a different reason: that when Marcus is shooting well he gets more touches and guys like Kyrie, Tatum and Brown don’t. His shots have to come at the expense of someone else. Maybe not but all things being equal if Marcus Smart is your leading scorer that tells me that most likely the other guys aren’t getting great looks.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Speaking less about Marcus and more about the second unit in general, it worked rather nicely with Kyrie running the show against Detroit. (For all of the problems they had vs Detroit, second unit offense from the Kyrie-Ojeleye-Theis-Rozier-Smart group wasn't an issue.)
 

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If a player can't improve a major area of weakness on a contract year, then I can't see how a team will fall in love with him.
To me he's a culture guy. Want to change or deepen your defensive/all out effort culture? Sign Marcus Smart. This is especially true for a team that isn't going to be a championship contender during the 4 year window of his contract.

I think Brooklyn makes a run at him. Atkinson and Marks have changed the culture there and Smart would further deepen their commitments to D and playing hard for 48 minutes. Plus, sticking it to the Celts would be a moral victory for their fan base after the horrid trade.
 

nighthob

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To me he's a culture guy. Want to change or deepen your defensive/all out effort culture? Sign Marcus Smart. This is especially true for a team that isn't going to be a championship contender during the 4 year window of his contract.

I think Brooklyn makes a run at him. Atkinson and Marks have changed the culture there and Smart would further deepen their commitments to D and playing hard for 48 minutes. Plus, sticking it to the Celts would be a moral victory for their fan base after the horrid trade.
They already have those guys, they want shooters, not defensive role playing sixth men. And they’re certainly not bidding 80% max on bench depth. If Billy King were still in charge you could expect to see them make a stupid offer like that, but the new guys in charge have prioritized shooting. Avery Bradley is the sort of player they’re looking for.

EDIT: Let's put this another way, if you're determined to make a run at an RFA to increase the talent, why make a run at one that you're going to have to radically overpay to get his current team to think about not matching when there are going to be guys that match up with needs whose current teams have other priorities?

Much like Boston's desire to sign Gordon Hayward last summer meant that Boston was never going to attempt to match Kelly Olynyk, the Lakers' desires to make a bid on two stars this summer means that they're in the same boat. And an offer on Julius Randle has a high chance of success because they can't match and sign two stars. And it's going to be tough to convince any one star to sign there otherwise.
 
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the moops

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I don't think anyone has suggested that Smart will get near max money. But I think it is highly likely he gets a Teague/Hill offer thrown his way (3/57)
 

bosox79

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It's hard to say what Marcus will get because there aren't really many comps out there. I think he comes cheaper than 3/57 though.

I'm guessing there is also a limited number of suitors. This is a 3 point league.
 

nighthob

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I don't think anyone has suggested that Smart will get near max money. But I think it is highly likely he gets a Teague/Hill offer thrown his way (3/57)
Again, there are more front line free agents than teams with cap space. The last two summers have eaten up all the cap space. And $19 million per year is an 80% max offer. No one is throwing that sort of money at a guy to lead the second unit.
 

nighthob

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They would be throwing that money at him to be a starter
Smart isn't good enough to be a starter except as "the other guy on the floor". Which leads to the same problem, the Nets don't need to spend 80% max on "the other guy on the floor" when they already have two of those guys (LaVert and Jefferson may not be as good, but they're a lot cheaper than the fantasies people are engaging in about what Smart's going to be offered).

The Nets need a centerpiece player and they've been very open about the fact that they fully intend to be in the 2019 lottery, so look for them to repeat what they did last summer, use their available cap space to take on talent in exchange for helping someone else maximize cap space. Or just sent out a 4 year offer to Julius Randle knowing that the Lakers will need to renounce him to pursue their own free agent plans.
 

bosox79

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Can someone offer Smart like 1/24 to retain cap space, a la Redick and KCP?
 

nighthob

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Can someone offer Smart like 1/24 to retain cap space, a la Redick and KCP?
I'm not sure that you can offer RFAs one year deals like that. Besides which Boston almost certainly matches a one year deal and then gleefully uses Smart as trade bait in the summer of '19 when he's a UFA and there'd be no BYC consequences (due to his salary decreasing).
 

Swedgin

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Again, there are more front line free agents than teams with cap space. The last two summers have eaten up all the cap space. And $19 million per year is an 80% max offer. No one is throwing that sort of money at a guy to lead the second unit.
For context, the following teams are projected to have 19M+ in space in 2018:

BRK 21
ATL 21
CHI 37
IND 47
LAL 47
PHI 23.5

If you lower the threshold to 14M you can add:

DAL 17
PHX 14.5

Which of those teams do folks think have an interest in Smart? Chicago if they give up on Dunn? Indy to pair with Dipo?
 

nighthob

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For context, the following teams are projected to have 19M+ in space in 2018:

BRK 21
ATL 21
CHI 37
IND 47
LAL 47
PHI 23.5

If you lower the threshold to 14M you can add:

DAL 17
PHX 14.5

Which of those teams do folks think have an interest in Smart? Chicago if they give up on Dunn? Indy to pair with Dipo?
Chicago's a good point. HRB might have an orgasm if Chicago went for a sign & trade with Dunn+ coming to Boston to replace Smart.
 

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Nighthob, my thinking was also that the Nets were left hanging by Porter, Johnson and Crabbe. I think a solid offer to Smart might not be matched which would mean they are actually able to add talent. I also think he’d play pretty well next to Russell.
 

nighthob

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The Nets were left hanging by every offer they made to RFAs whose teams had no means of pursuing other free agents in the market, and whose contracts all got matched by their original teams. So that means they'll naturally go the exact same route yet again? When there's a free agent out there whose team can't match an offer to and still pursue other free agent options? (Seriously, guys, think about this a little.)

Also, the other guys they signed offer sheets to all had one thing in common that Smart doesn't have. Brooklyn isn't going to be making Marcus a 4/80 offer to pry him from Boston, not when they can get Julius Randle, who plays a position of need for them, for much less. They literally have two guys like Smart on rookie deals, one of whom plays a lot of time as an undersized PF due to crowding at the 2/3 spots.
 

nighthob

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Look at the list of teams with cap space, Swedgin is right, Chicago's about the only team that would consider it. Largely because Dunn looks like a backup PG and they might just want someone like Smart in their locker room to go along with the Finnish Marauder and their high lottery pick this year.

Brooklyn's in a different boat, they don't have a potential centerpiece yet and are looking at the 2019 draft for that guy. I doubt they're interested in adding a bench depth player at the 80% max money that it would take to get his original team to work out a sign & trade.
 

tbrown_01923

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i love randle to brooklyn, in so much as I think it is likely to happen, not in terms of the player or the fit. I can see a semi-aggressive offer on Day 1 of FA to force LAs hand. They would almost have to not match - to be able to move forward with their "plan"
 

Swedgin

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Look at the list of teams with cap space, Swedgin is right, Chicago's about the only team that would consider it. Largely because Dunn looks like a backup PG and they might just want someone like Smart in their locker room to go along with the Finnish Marauder and their high lottery pick this year.

Brooklyn's in a different boat, they don't have a potential centerpiece yet and are looking at the 2019 draft for that guy. I doubt they're interested in adding a bench depth player at the 80% max money that it would take to get his original team to work out a sign & trade.
Its also worth keeping in mind the guys whom Smart will be competing against for the limited dollars available:

Unrestricted FA's include:

Reddick
Avery Bradley
KCP
(one assumes) Danny Green
IT
Tyreke Evans
Seth Curry
and Lou Williams.

RFA's:

Jabari
Nurkic
Aaron Gordon
Clint Capela
Randle
Lavine
Rodney Hood
Noah Vonleh
Elfrid Payton
 

nighthob

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i love randle to brooklyn, in so much as I think it is likely to happen, not in terms of the player or the fit. I can see a semi-aggressive offer on Day 1 of FA to force LAs hand. They would almost have to not match - to be able to move forward with their "plan"
That’s what I was thinking, that they make a frontloaded 4/72 deal to force the Lakers to let him go in a sign & trade for one of their guys on a rookie deal.
 

JakeRae

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SSS! Last 4 games

20/33 FG (61%)
10/19 3P (53%)
15 REB
26 AST
+46
Definitely still in the too early to hope much range, but maybe his ankles are starting to get healthy and his off-season work is actually able to materialize. I haven't been able to watch much for the last 2 weeks, so I'm not sure if that is consistent with what those who have watched have observed. He won't keep shooting this well, but a small sample of great shooting gives some hope for merely bad instead of historically bad shooting going forward.
 

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I've watched, but only closely enough to confirm that the ball went through the net. One 3 pointer today was from well beyond the arc and swished in beautifully. He was impressive. (I took a client to the Philadephia game and opined that Smart was a terrible shooter. He proceeded to light the place up.)
 

Reverend

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I've watched, but only closely enough to confirm that the ball went through the net. One 3 pointer today was from well beyond the arc and swished in beautifully. He was impressive. (I took a client to the Philadephia game and opined that Smart was a terrible shooter. He proceeded to light the place up.)
It was from “Watertown,” to be specific.

Or so I heard.
 

bosox79

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Smart is creeping up to his career averages in shooting and the bench has looked much better because of it. It seems they are actively trying to get Theis more touches the last few games and Rozier has been hitting the 3 consistently for awhile now. Semi has been shooting better of late too. When Semi and Rozier are hitting their 3s, the bench looks light years better. Of course Smart has been shooting well of late too. It seems they all get hot or cold at the same time.

Over the last 15 games, Rozier is 27/64 .422 from 3 and at a respectable .370 for the year (40/108). Still a small sample size, but encouraging nonetheless. Semi is now 15/47 .319 for the year but he had a 1/17 stretch before going 5/9 the last 5 games.

I still think the team needs another play maker but they also could use a bruiser because guys like Drummond and Monroe eat this team alive.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Another interesting article on how Smart helps the offense, complete with video of teams closing out on him which lead to open shots by better shooters. (I can think of one game - the Mavs? - where Smart was left open to shoot but generally teams have played him pretty straight). Some numbers:

When Smart is in the game, the Celtics score at a rate of 109.3 points per 100 possessions. When he is not in the game, Boston scores an average of 101.1 points per 100 possessions. Only Al Horford — and crucially not Kyrie Irving — has a more significant effect on Boston’s offensive efficiency than Smart.

Most of that difference is made up in the Celtics’ shooting. Boston attempts better shots when Smart is in the game and makes those shots more often. Sixty-three percent of its buckets are assisted with Smart in compared to less than 57 percent with him out. The Celtics’ effective field goal percentage as a team rises to 53 percent with Smart in and drops to 50.3 percent with him out. They shoot a higher percentage of their shots from three-point range and convert restricted area attempts at a clip 8 percent higher than with Smart out of the game.
Will be interested to see come playoff time if teams play Smart like they did Rondo.
 

sezwho

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When Semi and Rozier are hitting their 3s, the bench looks light years better.
For sure, and not just looks better! Smart, Semi, Rosé, Theis and Baynes are relentless and physical individual defenders that almost never miss a rotation. Any hint of offense, let alone a cluster of threes, and runs could really be extended.

I can think of one game - the Mavs? - where Smart was left open to shoot but generally teams have played him pretty straight)
This is why I wasn't joining the chorus of folks piling on Smart for launching threes. Ok, maybe I was a little when he was running with the starters and firing them off at 10+ seconds on the clock, but if defenses are going to sag off him then he needs to light it up and we accept the consequences. There isn't enough consistent offense outside the starters for them to be successful if teams can cheat off defending Smart.
 

Eddie Jurak

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There isn't enough consistent offense outside the starters for them to be successful if teams can cheat off defending Smart.
This is extreme, for a guy who - for all his offensive flaws - has maintained a consistent and positve net rating throughout his career.
 

Jimbodandy

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This is extreme, for a guy who - for all his offensive flaws - has maintained a consistent and positve net rating throughout his career.
I'm confused as to where you find fault in his statement.

If Marcus is with mostly or all bench guys, and if teams can sag off him to clog the lane, then that unit won't score jack shit. I agree with that.

There is nobody outside of the top 4-5 guys who can create good shots. Marcus and Rozier can with penetration, but that goes out the window if the opponents pack in.

We need him taking those open threes when teams choose not to defend it.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I'm confused as to where you find fault in his statement.

If Marcus is with mostly or all bench guys, and if teams can sag off him to clog the lane, then that unit won't score jack shit. I agree with that.

There is nobody outside of the top 4-5 guys who can create good shots. Marcus and Rozier can with penetration, but that goes out the window if the opponents pack in.

We need him taking those open threes when teams choose not to defend it.
The Celtics are and have been successful with Smart. Yes, their bench has struggled offensively, but, as long as they are outscoring their opponents that is a problem that we can live with.
 

sezwho

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The Celtics are and have been successful with Smart. Yes, their bench has struggled offensively, but, as long as they are outscoring their opponents that is a problem that we can live with.
I agree we can live with it, and as jimbo said my point wasn't to run down Smart's game. I also recognize Brad puts him on the court to close games for a reason. That said, the second unit being so D-centric already seems vulnerable to a scoring drought if Smart isn't willing to jack them when given space. Him not taking shots might change the balance to something we couldn't live with.
 

Fishy1

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Took a look through Smarts shooting splits and it confirmed much of my and others' observations. A huge part of Smart's problem - besides the dismal three point shooting - is that he's taking as many shots at the rim as he is from 3-10 feet and as many again in the mid range (per b-ref - can anyone speak to the reliability of their numbers?). On the former he's shooting an average 50%, on the latter - all those floaters and hook shots - just 22%. The mid range shots are just a little better. I actually think that number will look better by the end of the year (he was 40% on those shots last year) but the fact remains that most shooters struggle from that range and that being able to actually get to the rim is such a boon for guards. If you can't, you end up shooting like Smart.

I've felt better about him in the pick and roll of late, but it might be that I'm overweighing the value of him occasionally finding a shooter or a rolling Horford/Theis. If he ends up foisting up a terrible floater instead, the possession is shot. I'd much rather have Tatum running those p&rs at this point, and point Smart to the corner, where he's shot well enough over the years (without taking many shots there at all).
 

the moops

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It's also the fact that when is out there with the second unit, there is nobody else that is aggresive enough to get any kind of good luck. Sure, he throws up his share of ridiclous contested shots, but many times, he at least makes a strong move and gets into a decent scoring position. He doesn't make the shots frequently enough, so maybe it doesn't matter, but it semms obvious that when he is not doing his thing, the entire offense looks terrible.
 

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Bill Simmons always raves about how Smart does something to help the team win during clutch time, even if his box score is ugly. Just witnessed a perfect example. In the 99-98 nail biter against the Rockets, he missed a 3 that would have tied it with about a minute left to go, but then somehow baited James Harden into not one but TWO offensive fouls (pushing) in the backcourt in the last 30 seconds, setting the stage for a go-ahead bucket by Horford.

I've never seen anything quite like it. Harden's tendency to come up small in big occasions is well documented by now, but Smart literally just imposed his will and changed the entire outcome of the game -- without the ball.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Didn't he drop 10-15 pounds over the summer in order to gain quickness/lift?
Yes but he shouldn't lost that much strength. He's still physically stronger than a lot of guys who guard him I think.

If I were Brad, I would have switched Harden onto him and then sent him down to the post to see if he could get fouls on Harden.
 

Ed Hillel

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I think if you had 4 GMs, one would offer 5 million a year, another 10, another 15, and another 20. Which is why I think he’s ultimately going to get overpaid and leave, but it’s been quite an adventure.