By: Andrew Oak
Marcus Smart and James Young are coming into a great situation (relatively speaking) in which they won't have a tremendous amount of pressure on them during their rookie campaigns. There are still plenty of moves to make this offseason to reshape the Celitcs roster, but right now, they seem to be moving in the right direction.
Smart is one of the more physical guards I have seen in the past few years. Now we all know what he did at Texas Tech last season, but that snafu aside, he has been one of the more competitive players I have seen in recent memory. You can youtube highlights of Marcus Smart all night long, but one thing that stands out about him, is his competitive nature and hustlers mentality as well as his commitment to playing on both sides of the ball. The Celtics have a strong defensive mindset in the backcourt for this upcoming season. Rondo, Avery Bradley and Smart will be one of the best defensive backcourts in the league this season. The real question is, can these guards consistently score points for us all season.
Marcus Smart has played against Andrew Wiggins three times last season and he definitely lived up to the task to guard the best player on the best team. What people don't really know about Smart is, well, he is actually really Smart. He tends to play against the highest competition whenever he is in the game and whenever the game is on the line. The fact that he said he can't wait to 'D-Up' LeBron is a great way of knowing that he is ready to take the next step. Whether he allows 10 points or 50 points to LeBron remains the be seen, but he certainly won't back down to a challenge and that is what the Celtics have been missing.
James Young is well known for his emphatic slam dunk during the National Championship Game last year. John Calipari only recruits NBA talent, so the fact that the Celtics took somewhat of a gamble on a lefty wing player is somewhat inspiring. It is certainly a nice gamble considering that there aren't as many lefty emphatic shooters in the NBA today. So it is a high risk, high reward type of pick at 17. Remember we did pass on Gary Harris (Mich St) and Rodney Hood (Duke) during the draft, so Danny Ainge must have seen the upside in Young and the progressions that he made during his NCAA tournament run.
Young seems to be a player that you ride with when he's hot and you sit down when he's cold. Now we know that he is really young (whoops), but he can progress through Brad Steven's system and put more of a commitment on the defensive side of the ball. Young's speciality is shooting, but even his college statistics weren't that great, so could he just be a Jeff Green replacement or will he be a Manu Ginobili type of role player to begin his career. That remains to be seen as well.
So its safe to say, right now, that the Celtics have been pretty smart this offseason so far. Drafting young talent and not overselling or overbuying on any one player just quite yet seems to be the right move. Since we are still in a rebuilding phase until we finalize what's going to happen with Rondo, I'd like to say that this Celtics team will be very young and have a very heavy defensive mindset going into the summer league. You know what the great coaches say, you win championships on great defenses, and that seems to be the strategy at the moment.