Boston Celtics

Is Marcus Smart a legit 3-point shooter now?

Marcus Smart has found success from beyond the arc this month, but is he now a legit 3-point shooter?

For his career, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart is a 30.5 percent shooter from 3-point range. So far this year he has been better, converting from beyond the arc at a 36.5 percent clip on 4.1 attempts per game.

Monday night against the Brooklyn Nets, Smart filled the stat sheet with 21 points, seven assists, two rebounds, two blocks and a season-high five steals. He also went 4-for-10 from 3-point range, and in combination with the shooting display from backup center Aron Baynes (2-for-5 from beyond the arc), Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens deemed the two the team’s “Splash Brothers” after the game.

Smart’s value can be hard to quantify, as he often does things that don’t show up on the stat sheet and is down the pecking order offensively. He has shifted toward the 3-point line this year  to find a place in Boston’s offense, with over 62 percent of his shot attempts (4.1 of 6.6 per game) coming from beyond the arc thus far.

But is Smart now a legit 3-point shooter opposing teams must account for?

In 13 January games, Smart is averaging 10.6 points per game, which is a nearly a 2.5-point jump from his season average (8.2 points per game). That is being sparked by making nearly 44 percent (43.8 percent) from 3-point range this month, with increased volume (5.6 attempts per game) and the requisite uptick in makes (2.5 per game).

Smart’s shooting percentages from the floor are the best of his career across the board right now, down to an effective field goal percentage over 52 percent. A 49-game sample is long enough to take something from, and it’s a noted positive trend for Smart. But the 261 regular season games Smart played entering this season matter too, and over that span he was a sub-30 percent shooter from 3-point range on similar volume to this season (4.2 attempts per game).

A look at Smart’s deeper splits from beyond the arc shows 90.5 percent of his makes are coming off assists this season, with 9.5 percent unassisted. As a comparison, 92.3 percent of noted catch-and-shooter Klay Thompson’s 3-point attempts have come off assists so far this season.

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Smart is in the midst of a good stretch from the perimeter right now, and time will tell if it sticks. But if he can continue to take advantage of his opportunities, opposing teams will have to account for him as a shooter right through what will hopefully be a deep playoff run for the Celtics.

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