• Romana Bholat

Marcus Smart Is On the Rise

*Photo via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics current roster has an average age of 24 years old, with more than half of that roster having been in the league for less than four seasons. It’s safe to say the Celtics are teeming with youth and energy. Leading this group of young guns is a tenacious 21 year old point guard entering his second season with the C’s.

Marcus Smart may be young and slightly rough around the edges, but this six-foot-four, 225 pound sophomore plays with heart and grit in every aspect of his game.

Smart struggled through a rough childhood where illness and drug addiction encapsulated his older brothers. He retaliated against the misfortunes in his life by acting out in ways that landed him in deep trouble. It seemed as if he was headed down a road of destruction that many of his peers had fallen victim to.

Behind guidance from his beloved mother and witnessing deaths of friends and acquaintances due to gang violence, Smart turned his life around and focused on basketball. He spent one year with Oklahoma State University where he was unanimously selected as an All-American in 2013 and shined as a collegiate athlete. But Smart aspired for bigger hoop dreams which soon became reality in 2014, when he was drafted as the sixth overall pick by the Boston Celtics.

Countless scouts salivated over Smart and his tenacious play on the basketball court. He’s a walking Swiss Army Knife that can do a little bit of everything when it’s time to suit up.

*Photo via AP

Danny Ainge saw the potential in this kid to stuff stat sheets and give his all on every play, ultimately deciding he was worth choosing with the Celtics lottery pick. Smart finished out his rookie year averaging 7.8 points, 3.1 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. He also earned a spot on the NBA All-Rookie second team despite missing ten consecutive games due to an ankle injury.

But perhaps the biggest takeaway Smart received from his rookie year with the Celtics was playoff experience. Albeit, a four game sweep doesn’t count for a ton of postseason experience, but playing against arguably the greatest player in the world and the eventual Eastern Conference Champions is valuable for any young player, but especially for one as competitive and eager to grow as Marcus Smart.

Growing up in a tough and taxing environment forced Smart to mature at a ripe age. That maturation carried into his professional basketball career and helped him adjust to being a floor general in a point-guard dominated league. His grit and undeniable toughness are principal qualities that will help elevate his team to the next level of success.

Smart’s work ethic on both ends of the floor and hunger for success are qualities that cannot be taught; they are instincts within him that will only continue to polish his overall game. From the plethora of young talent the Celtics possess, Smart should make the biggest leap next season. His stats and leadership qualities will continue to improve, as he should take charge of the team he will soon commandeer.

It’s clear that Marcus Smart is only getting started in his quest for greatness. And that’s something other NBA point guards will have to take notice of sooner rather than later.

Stats and Info courtesy of Celtics.com, NBA.com, ESPN.com

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