By Danny Dragin
Judging Marcus Smart against Terry Rozier is difficult, because they bring different skills to the floor. Both are young, hungry, and cheap (although probably not for long, in the case of Smart). Still, there’s a belief that Danny Ainge is eventually going to have to choose one or the other. So how do they break down?
Rozier is the type of player that a casual fan of the Celtics could watch on a random night and think, “Wow, that guy’s really going to be something.” He can hit big shots with a high degree of difficulty and then race the other way and lock down the opposing point guard.
Rozier started all 19 games in the playoffs and averaged 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists, all while committing only 22 turnovers. Less impressively, he shot 40 percent from the floor and 34 percent from behind the 3-point line. He also racked up six blocks and 24 steals. A facet of Rozier’s game that can’t be taught is his ability beat the shot clock, and not just in clutch moments, but in the final seconds of a half or quarter. His ability to know the clock and still find the perfect spot or moment to get the ball off is uncanny.
Rozier’s value is relatively apparent to other clubs: he runs the point, protects the ball, knocks down big shots, plays with energy on defense. He could make a lot of money next year in restricted free agency, and it becomes a question of whether Danny Ainge wants to get something for him or just let him walk. If the Celtics didn’t have, Kyrie Irving then solving this dilemma would be easy — Rozier stays. But the problem is they do have Kyrie, which is a pretty good problem to have. Anything Rozier can do, Irving can do better.
This is where Smart excels. In 2017, Smart excelled next to offensive powerhouse Isaiah Thomas, because Smart just can’t get it done on the offensive side consistently. What he lacks in scoring he makes up for in basically everything else. Smart owned the sixth-best general defensive rating per game in the NBA during the regular season.
The average fan looks at Smart and sees 0-7 from the field, and thus a liability. But he’s the antithesis of that. The only way to gauge his value is by observing him throughout an entire game. The ball just moves differently, people make different decisions when he’s on the floor, purely because of his presence. This allows him to be the sparkplug that extends a scoring run, without actually doing the scoring himself.
So what does Ainge do? He can’t view both players as two sides of the same coin, because their skills are pretty divergent. Rozier could look at himself as a starter on a good team, and as long as Kyrie Irving is in green, that team won’t be the Celtics. Smart on the other hand, appears much more willing to be an important sixth man throughout his career, which fits the Celtics system much better. He’ll probably be cheaper in the long run, too, because of offensive deficiencies.
In a perfect world, the C’s would keep both of them, and there’s a good chance that’s how the 2018-19 season will play out. But eventually Ainge will have to make a decision, and don’t be surprised if Smart’s the one who remains in green.
Full article @ Marcus Smart vs. Terry Rozier will come down to fit with Celtics, and there’s a clear choice
Source: GreenStreet Blog