In the last few weeks, Boston Celtics combo-guard Marcus Smart has played very well in his opportunities to start.
Avery Bradley has missed 18 games this year with a variety of injuries, but soreness in his Achilles has recently sidelined the 26 year old shooting guard. Bradley having lingering injuries is nothing new for the two time all-defense team member. Though the past two seasons Bradley has played in more games (153) than any other two-year span in his seven-year career.
Smart was the first true step in the Boston Celtics rebuild process. 2014 was the last time the Celtics missed the playoffs, and it was also the first year they had the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick. As Danny Ainge projected the Celtics would be in the Lottery in 2014, and for the foreseeable future the Nets would have a lottery pick. In Boston’s only real “down year” they drafted Oklahoma State’s point guard/shooting guard with the sixth pick, Marcus Smart. Smart was mixed into the elite class of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Joel Embiid, and Aaron Gordon. All these players were viewed as potential franchise players for Boston, and some fans felt let down when they came up with Smart. Marcus was a scrappy player (in positive light), but had some off the court issues.
While Bradley has been sidelined, Marcus has worked his way into not only the starting lineup, but he is making a statement. Smart has played defense with at least to an equal level of effort as Bradley is known for, he is scoring, not turning the ball over, and he is making all the intangible “effort” or “hustle” plays.
2018 Free Agents
Jaylen Brown (Team Opt)
Jordan Mickey (R)
Terry Rozier (Team Opt)
Marcus Smart (R)
— Celtic Green 2017 (@CelticGreen2017) January 31, 2017
The Celtics are at a premature crossroads at the guard position. Following the 2017-2018 season, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart are all free agents. The Celtics can swap picks with the Brooklyn Nets this upcoming draft. And although it is extremely talented, it’s a guard front-loaded draft. The Celtics have a few options, and they may need to combine a few:
- Trade Bradley, get a big guy that can help this year. Use the Brooklyn pick to reset at the guard position.
- Trade Smart, get a big guy that can help this year. Use the Brooklyn pick to reset at the guard position.
- Trade the pick at the deadline, and acquire someone that can help this year.
- Use the Pick, trade the rights to the player they draft, slide back a few picks while also getting a piece that can be used next season.
I have Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley…no thanks https://t.co/qXfkKJl7rX
— Emanuel Palmer (@epalmer26) February 9, 2017
Not everyone may agree, but something has to give.
Bradley has a 61% winning percentage this season, a +/- of +2.8 per game in his last 10 games played, and has 1.3 in Defensive Win Shares. (Bradley is widely known as the team’s best defender.)
Smart has 64.7% winning percentage this season, a +/- of +5.9 per game in his last 10 games, and has a 1.6 Defensive Win Share. (A better score than Bradley.)
Bradley emerged as a legitimate second scoring option for the Celtics, but they’ve played better without him, posting a .706 winning percentage since he’s been out. Bradley is the odd-man out, while you have a younger and more athletic player already on the roster. Bradley has to be the one that is traded, Marcus Smart has more value to the Celtics.