The Education of Marcus Smart: The “does he know mid-range jumpshots are allowed?” Edition

Marcus Smart’s shot chart looks like he’s been playing NBA Jam, which is a game that already existed when Marcus was born (how old do you feel right now?)

What is missing here?

What is missing here?

Those of us who are old enough to remember NBA Jam and haven’t slipped into senility quite yet will remember that there were really only two shots in that game. There was the three, which you took if you were John Stockton, and there was the dunk, which you threw down from the rafters if you were Karl Malone, because of course you played as the Jazz. You never took jump shots inside the three-point line. With the league now increasingly understanding the value of the three-point shot, and the folly of the long two (with one exception that is a continuing source of personal schadenfreude) more and more teams are playing the NBA Jam style offense: shots are taken either at the rim or from behind the three-point line. Brad Stevens is a staunch proponent of the NBA Jam offense, and that attitude has clearly rubbed off on young Marcus Smart.

Look a that shot chart. Through four games Smart hasn’t taken a shot between 5 and 20 feet from the basket.

Smart has shot poorly so far, but that was sort of to be expected, and given that Avery Bradley has somehow developed into one of the Celtic’s best shooters after starting his career as a pure defender who ran up and down the baseline on offense like he was playing dodgeball, it isn’t necessarily something to worry about. But how high can your shooting percentage be if 21 of your 30  shots are threes? Especially when you aren’t particularly good at shooting threes? Can you really develop much of a shot if you are only shooting threes and layups?

A mid-range pull up, to say nothing of the a well executed floater, is  a prerequisite of good guard play in the NBA. It would be nice to see Marcus shoot this. Of course, I’m not blaming Marcus for this, and this is a crazy small sample. But maybe Brad should let Marcus know that it’s okay to shoot from fifteen feet every now and again?

Kyle Lowry, the patron saint of wide-bodied point guards, torched the Celtics for 35 points last night. He is, at least offensively, who we hope Marcus grows up to be some day. After last night’s game, it was Smart’s roller coast ride of back to back offensive series down the stretch that got all the ink. He hit the big three to tie the game at 105 with just over a minute to play before Lowry picked his pocket to put the Raptors up for good. But what actually won the game was Lowry’s 18 footer with 8 seconds left that put Toronto up by three.

That’s a mid range jumpshot and it’s often all the defense will give a point guard, especially in crunch time, when the defense is taking away the deep ball and moving to help at the rim. It would be nice to see Marcus shoot one. Just once.

 

 

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