Marcus made Zach Lowe's "Ten Things" list this week.
It's an NBA riddle: How can a wing shooting 32 percent end up on the positive side of the plus-minus ledger every night? Boston fans would point to Smart's bullying, chest-to-chest defense, and the balls-to-the-wall plays -- flying in from nowhere for rebounds and saves -- that inspire teammates. (Many of those fans would wish not to consider the possibility that some of those plus-minus numbers are random noise that comes with playing on a very good team, and that historically bad shooting is harmful on certain nights.)
The debate has given short shrift to Smart's passing -- a must for any non-shooter who has the ball so much. Smart has grown in that department every year. He was wild and uncertain at first. By last season, he had mastered the simple stuff -- obvious drive-and-kick reads, pick-and-pop passes to Al Horford.
Now, he's thinking one step ahead, manipulating defenses:
Smart's swing pass kicks off that sequence. When the ball gets back to him, Smart drives with a purpose: He knows he can toast Malcolm Brogdon, and that if he does, Marcus Morris will fade to the corner. A bigger guard who can run the offense provides crucial roster flexibility.
Smart's free agency this summer will be fascinating. The league doesn't quite know what to do with him. He's a polarizing player. Given Boston's financial commitments to Horford, Gordon Hayward, and Kyrie Irving -- plus the play of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, both ahead of Smart now in the organizational pecking order -- a rich offer sheet could present Boston with a thorny dilemma.
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