There’s no question that the Boston Celtics have the best group of players under 26 in the NBA, and will continue to hold that title pending what they do with their upcoming draft picks. Take Jaylen Brown for example, although his rookie numbers aren’t NBA All-Star ready, he is clearly one of the most productive rookies in the league, and has arguably the most upside to any NBA rookie in the league. One NBA scout recently told SportingNews that Brown could end up becoming one of, if not the best player from the 2016 class. The talent from the C’s U26 group doesn’t stop with Brown. Rozier’s numbers have been increasing in every statistic and Bradley has expanded his offensive productive in a tremendous way (team leading 47.9 FGP% and 42.6 3P%).
And then there’s Marcus Smart. Before your engines become too revved if you disagree with the title of this article, I will admit and wholeheartedly agree that Marcus Smart is a very good player with tremendous upside. With Isaiah Thomas recently sidelined with a groin injury, Smart has proven that he is very deserving of being a starting point guard in this league. Not only has he seen an increase in numbers, but has shown to be a commander and leader on the offensive and defensive front.
After a recent loss OKC, when Smart had a game-high plus 11 (beating out Bradley, Horford and Westbrook to name a few), Crowder was asked about Smart’s progression and performance saying, “He has the ability to run a team, and he’s getting better at it.” Crowder’s veteran praise of Smart, as well as his increase in numbers in nearly every category, is showing how valuable Smart is to not only the Celtics, but in the NBA trade market.
Now this is where things get interesting, and where the Celtics need to act, and need to act fast. With Smart coming off arguably his best stretch of games, NBA teams and coaches are acknowledging Smarts potential and brilliance. Thunder coach Billy Donavan recently commented on Smart’s potential stardom saying, “He’s a guy that thrives in more competitive situations, and I always felt like if he could take that competitiveness to skill work – his shooting, his ballhandling – the sky’s the limit as to how good he can be.” Donavan is not the only coach or NBA decision maker that is or has taken note of Smarts potential, as Smart has been mentioned in nearly every trade rumor involving the Celtics. But with his recent success, increasing numbers, and impressive production the Celtics need to act fast, and by fast I mean very fast.
Not only is acting fast important due to Thomas’ return, resulting in a decreasing role for Smart, but because the Celtics need a superstar more desperately than ever before. Ainge has acknowledged it time and again. Players admit it. Everyone knows that the Celtics are one player away from being one of the best. Aside from maybe Brown, Smart is the Celtics most valuable commodity right now, and most desirable asset. Players that have been swirling around the Celtics rumor mill recently include, DeMarcus Cousins (of course), Paul George, Nerlens Noel and just about every other NBA player nearing their contract year. Cousin’s recent outburst and team fine makes a Kings Celtics trade more imaginable than ever before. Imagine a starting lineup of Thomas, Bradley, Crowder, Horford, and Cousins. Or imagine Thomas, Bradley, George, Horford, and Jerebko/Johnson. The Celtics could easily compete with the Cavaliers and could very quickly enter the conversation for teams best equipped to beat the Warriors.
Are the Celtics going to trade Smart soon? Who knows? But if the Celtics want to enter the picture for teams most likely to win the Eastern Conference and defeat the Nephilim of the Western Conference, they need to make a deal and make a deal soon. And by pairing Smart with one of their myriad of picks, the Celtics are guaranteeing themselves a player that will easily enter them as a top team in the NBA. So please Danny Ainge, hear my plea, trade Smart and make the Celtics great again.