BOSTON – This past summer, there was a noticeable change in Marcus Smart’s game.
When he was on the floor with the Celtics’ summer league team, he was the undisputed floor leader.
It didn’t always show up in a nifty pass or a clutch basket.
But there was no mistaking Smart was running the show.
And the growth seen in Smart’s game during the offseason, both he and the Celtics are optimistic it will continue as Boston inches closer towards the regular season.
“I’m definitely a better player now,” Smart told CSNNE.com recently. “My whole game has improved. I’m looking forward to having a big year this season.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has been pleased with the effort he has seen in Smart to improve his game.
“I see him frequently enough that I see the daily work that he puts in,” Stevens said. “He’s getting better. He can still get a lot better.”
Smart came into the NBA with a defensive mindset, something that remained his calling card and was a factor in him being named to the NBA’s All-rookie second team.
“I’ve said from day one, he’s way ahead of the curve for a 21-year-old,” Stevens said. “Defensively, on and off the ball he’s outstanding. And he’s continuing to get better on the offensive end because he’s very capable. It’s about picking the right spots.”
Smart said earlier this summer that becoming a better playmaker was a priority.
“Not only getting better shots for me, but also setting my teammates up for better shots,” he said. “A lot of that is just getting older, getting used to the NBA and stuff like that.”
During Smart's rookie season, Evan Turner was often the floor leader for Boston while Smart played more off the ball. All indications are that Smart will have the ball in his hands more this season.
"The more guys we have handling the ball out there, the better we are," Turner said. "That'll be a good thing."
Said Stevens: “The number one thing any guard has to do, is if they can make plays for others that’s great without making plays for the other team. So that’s a major emphasis. And Marcus has done a very good job of handling the ball when he’s been asked to do that for us. And then, making sure he continues to take care of it and makes sure he picks the right time to take those shots is a big step for him and he’s looked good in that so far.”