Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart was 0-for-7 from the field on Thursday night. But head coach Brad Stevens needed to keep him in the game.
Despite some obvious mistakes, his effectiveness was remarkable against the defending champions when the Celtics played the Warriors. When he was on the court, his team outscored Golden State by 15 points.
For context, opposing offenses have scored 94 points per 100 possessions when Smart is on the court this season. This is the best among all players who have logged as many minutes as Smart so far.
The accolades do not stop there. Smart, known as an effective post-up defender, is No. 2 overall in Defensive Win Shares and the only player he trails is teammate Jayson Tatum.
Basketball analyst Alex West recently wrote about the 23-year-old player (via NBA Math):
“Smart will do just about anything to help his team win—whether defending, rebounding, protecting the rim or just getting on the floor to recover a loose ball. He is ready to bring his lunch pail and go to work. Every. Single. Night. Every team in the league would love to have a guy like him, even if his shooting numbers can trigger bleeding in the eyes.”
According to Cleaning the Glass, Boston has an added 3.4 percent chance of creating a turnover when Smart is on the floor compared to when he is not. The players that he has guarded have a 3.7 percent lower accuracy from the field so far this season.
Smart also ranks Top 20 in steals per game – ahead of his former teammate and defensive anchor Avery Bradley. He has so far played just one game without recording a steal this year.
To see the kind of effort he has on a nightly basis, watch the 6-foot-4 defender block a shot from Zaza Pachulia, who is 6-foot-11.