Stevens: Smart 'can still improve' as shooter

Stevens: Smart 'can still improve' as shooter
June 27, 2014, 4:00 pm
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BOSTON — If you're among those who cringe at the sight of Marcus Smart pulling up for a long jumper, you're not alone.

For all that the 6-foot-3 guard serves up when he's on the floor, a reliable shooting touch is not on the menu.

Smart, taken with the No. 6 pick by Boston in the NBA draft on Thursday night, shot 29.9 percent on 3s last year at Oklahoma State and that was an improvement - seriously! - over what he shot as a freshman.

After watching him this past season with the Cowboys, in addition to having him in Boston for a pair of workouts, Celtics coach Brad Stevens believes Smart's numbers aren't a reflection of the strides he has made as a shooter.

"He can still improve in that area," Stevens said. "But unlike a lot of shooters who struggle in college, depth is not gonna be an issue with him. He'll get good range on his shot. He's got good arc on his shot. He's got pretty good mechanics. He's worked hard on it."

Smart's ability to become a more reliable shooter in the NBA is vital to his success with the Celtics.

Although Smart played point guard this past season, he will see some action at the off-guard position, alongside Rajon Rondo, who like Smart, has historically had his struggles as a shooter.

In talks with the Celtics, Smart said he was asked about playing with Rondo this season.

"Rondo was actually one of the guards I like watching because he reminds me of me," Smart said. "Very versatile, can affect the game in many ways."

Smart added, "they can play me in either of the guard spots they put me in. It doesn't necessarily have to be the point guard role. I can play off the ball or I can also play with the ball in my hand."

Even if Smart doesn't shoot the ball as well as he or Stevens would like, he's still expected to make an impact when he's in the game.

"He's physically ready to play and competes every single minute of every single day, and that will do nothing but help your team regardless of what position he's playing in," Stevens said. "I expect him to play some off the ball. I expect him to play some with the ball. But he's a young guy and he's gonna be playing with a guy [Rondo] there that has been in the league for a long time that can really help him learn about it. I think it's great. I think it'll be great for both of them."