Five Thirty Eight’s Marcus Smart projection is not SMART

Five-Thirty-Eight’s CARMELO player projection predicts that the Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart is a future all-star. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg used this metric and measurement to hypothesize that the Celtics have their future number one option already on the team. This projection and article greatly over-exaggerates Smart’s skills and puts unfair expectations on the third year Boston guard.

Smart was the Celtics number sixth pick in the 2014 NBA draft and has proven to be a strong defensive guard for Boston. He started 38 games despite holes in his offensive game. He has carved out a spot in the Celtics rotation as an option off the bench as a defensive stopper. The CARMELO projection for Smart after his rookie predicted him as a future all-star. This past season his numbers have slipped despite averaging nearly the same amount of minutes. His field goal percentage went from 36.7% to 34.8% and his three-point percentage fell eight percentage points to 25% with the same amount of attempts.

Smart’s defensive has been a constant for the Celtic, using CARMELO’s he has been a plus 1.3 on defense for both seasons. This season Smart improved his free throw percent from 64.6% as a rookie to 77.7% while attempting nearly one more free throw a game. With Evan Turner leaving the Celtics for the Portland Trail Blazers, there will be plenty of more minutes for Smart to improve his game. The Celtics’ boast a trio of top notch perimeter defenders in Smart, Jae Crowder, and Avery Bradley; the addition of Horford will allow them to boast a strong small defensive lineup.

The CARMELO projection is predicting a huge leap in Smart’s offensive game. It is the same prediction it made before the 15-16 season. Prior to that season the Five-Thirty-Eight tool projected a 1.1 improvement in Smart’s offensive production. Instead it swung the other way to a minus 0.6 in his offensive plus/minus stats. For the 16-17 season it is predicting Smart’s offensive plus/minus to finish at plus 0.9 which would be a 1.3 swing from what he produced last season.

Although Forsberg expects Smart’s to get the lion share of minutes that Turner left behind, he’s not accounting for the amount of shots he might get. With Horford in the mix and as the lone post threat for the Celtics it is easy to project that his shot attempts will eat into some of the 9.3 shots per game Turner took last season. If Smart is going to make the projected leap he will have to increase the total amount of shots he takes per game from 8.7 to at least 11 but probably closer to 12 shots a game. If he doesn’t get those shots he will have to vastly improve his efficiency which has gone done from over the past two seasons.

Forsberg’s article predicting that Smart has the ability to grow into the Celtic’s number one option is an unfair expectation to lay on the shoulders of a third year guard who never had that expectation.

For two years the CARMELO projection has predicted that he’ll be a future all-star despite his offensive game regressing. The perfect role Smart can play for the Celtics is one similar to what Eric Bledsoe did for the Los Angeles Clippers in the 11-12 season. He came off the bench and provided a bolt of lightning with his defense and often changed the course of many games. Smart can become a sixth man of the year candidate for the Celtics this upcoming season.

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