Raptors' Lowry: Marcus Smart 'really coming into his own' in NBA

Raptors' Lowry: Marcus Smart 'really coming into his own' in NBA

BOSTON – Tonight’s game between Boston and Toronto is full of must-see matchups, some pitting established stars like Kyle Lowry up against on-the-rise talent like Marcus Smart.

Lowry has established himself as an All-Star in this league, but it didn’t happen overnight or for that matter, early in his career.

And that should give hope to the Celtics regarding Smart whose statistics in his first three NBA seasons are as good or better than most of Lowry’s stats up to that point in his career.

Smart has 45 games left in this season and he’s already played 162 games compared to Lowry who played a total of 169 games in his first three years in the league.

Smart has the higher scoring average, rebounding average, minutes played per game while most of their shooting numbers are comparable to one another.

Not surprisingly, Lowry likes what he has seen out of Smart who will get the starting nod tonight in place of Avery Bradley who is still on the mend with a right Achilles strain injury.

Filling in for Bradley in Boston’s 117-108 win over New Orleans, Smart delivered a very Bradley-like performance with a season-high 22 points against the Pelicans.

“I think he’s really coming into his own, figuring out … he’s going to make his niche being a hell of a defender,” Lowry told CSN’s Abby Chin. “He’s a guy who can defend multiple positions, one (point guard), two (shooting guard) and three (small forward). He’s getting more comfortable with that. He’s finding his jump-shot in rhythm.”

For Lowry, his career didn’t begin to shift into another gear until the 2010-2011 season with the Houston Rockets. 

A role player up to that point, the Rockets made him their starting point guard where he averaged a then-career high 13.5 points per game with a career-high 71 starts. 

“My niche when I first came into the league was to be energy and play hard, just figure it out,” Lowry said. “Once I got older and got in a situation where I had to be more offensive-minded, that helped propel me to understanding the game, watching more film and the game slows down a bit. I think this is his 3rd year? He hasn’t had to be in a situation where he’s had to be the lead guy. He’s always been on a team and in a situation where guys have been ahead of him. Now when he gets an opportunity to be that guy, the game will slow down for him.”

That appears to be happening now.

Even though there’s a clear pecking order of players ahead of Smart on the Celtics roster, there’s no denying how his game has evolved to a point where questions about whether he’s a point guard no longer linger.

And Smart has embraced the fact that he doesn’t fit neatly at any specific position on the floor.

“I’m a basketball player; that’s how I see myself,” Smart told CSNNE.com. “Whatever coach (Brad Stevens) needs me to do, I’ll do. It doesn’t matter to me. I just want to help us win games; that’s all.”

Grousbeck: Celtics want Thomas longterm, but would draft a point guard

Grousbeck: Celtics want Thomas longterm, but would draft a point guard

The Celtics didn’t know when they traded a late first-round pick and Marcus Thornton for Isaiah Thomas that they were getting their next star player, but that 2015 trade deadline move has proven to be a pleasant surprise. 

Appearing on Felger and Mazz Friday, Celtics CEO and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said that he sees Thomas, who will be a free agent after next season, in the team’s longterm plans. 

“Every one of these seasons is different. It’s like a movie and you have a cast of characters and the cast changes a little bit every season,” Grousbeck said. “We’d love to have Isaiah here for a long, long time. He’s a phenomenal player and he loves being here.” 

The Celtics stand a strong chance of picking first overall in June’s draft since they own Brooklyn’s first-round pick. Asked whether Thomas’ status would prevent the team from taking a point guard (which the draft’s two prospects play), Grousbeck said the team doesn’t need to decide that now, but suggested it wouldn’t.

“Especially if it’s a very high pick in the draft, you’ve got to draft the best player,” Grousbeck said. “You probably wouldn’t draft for fit as much as just you see if there’s a transformational player that you can have for 10 or 15 years there. If you see a guy like that, you’ve got to make everything else work, I would think.” 

Grousbeck: C's two stars away, so giving up everything for one 'didn't make sense'

Grousbeck: C's two stars away, so giving up everything for one 'didn't make sense'

Celtics CEO and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined Felger and Mazz Friday, defending Danny Ainge’s inactively at Thursday’s trade deadline. 

Grousbeck’s thinking was that the team is two major pieces away from being a  championship-caliber club, and that giving up assets without filling those spots completely might have been harmful.

“I think it takes some strength and courage not to do anything when everybody’s howling to do something,” Grousbeck said. 

The Celtics were rumored to have had talks with the Bulls about Jimmy Butler and the Pacers about Paul George. Neither player ended up being traded. 

“We’re very comfortable with what happened,” Grousbeck said. “We offered a lot for a couple of guys, and we offered all that we were going to offer and it just wasn’t going to happen. Those guys weren’t going to be traded and they weren’t. It’s not problem. 

“We figure we’re probably two guys away from being a really, really good team; probably two significant guys away, and if we put all the chips in yesterday on one guy, we’re getting rid of draft pick -- or picks -- and we’re getting rid of free agency this summer, so it’s sort of like one step forward, two steps back. It just didn’t make sense.”