Following the Celtics tough loss to the Sacramento Kings, I felt something for this team that hasn't been there in two years: optimism. This team has fight. It has a certain amount of swagger and grit that you don't expect from a team that is 20-32. Truthfully, I think this team will go as their 2014 1st round draft pick, Marcus Smart, progresses.
Marcus Smart has always been a winner. In high school, the McDonald's All American went 115-6 and led his team to two state championships. In 2 years at Oklahoma State, Smart led the Cowboys to 2 trips to the NCAA tournament.
At the beginning of the season, it was thought that Smart would be the backup to All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. Following Rondo's trade to the Mavericks, Smart was thrusted into the starting lineup and has flourished. Although his shot is shaky at times, there is no denying that Smart is athletic and can get to the rim. Smart appears to be unrelenting in his pursuit of the basketball. Last night against the Kings, Smart got into minor altercations twice with Demarcus Cousins. Although I would personally like to see them on the same team, (it is all on you Trader Danny) it is refreshing to see a rivalry starting to form between two very fiery players.
Although these teams only meet twice a year, both times that these teams have met Marcus Smart and Demarcus Cousins have gone after each other. Smart's unwillingness to back down to a superstar center is a refreshing site after these past two years. Smart is no stranger to standing up and not backing down. As many probably remember, Smart was involved in an altercation last year with a Texas Tech fan. Supposedly, the fan said a racist slur, yet it was concluded that he was just heckling Smart. Nonetheless, Marcus shoved the fan and was suspended three games. Some may see this as a sign of immaturity, but I see it as Smart's fiery competitiveness just going a tad over the line.
As the season has progressed, Smart's shot has started to develop and his court vision has improved. If he continues to develop at his current pace, there is no doubt in my mind he will be a piece that the Celtics can build around. Smart's competitiveness and swagger tells me that he will never stop trying to improve and naysay his doubters. With pieces such as Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley and recently aquired Isaiah Thomas surrounding Smart, there is not reason to think that this team does not have an extremely bright future with Smart at the helm.
By Pete Packowski @Pete_BBS