By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
It could be an optical illusion or just something that many of us failed to notice over the past few seasons. But Marcus Smart looks like a different player shooting three-pointers so far in the 2019-20 season.
Dad I can't see real good, is that Reggie Miller over there!?
The proof is on paper, though. Smart is hitting triples at the highest rate of his career, shooting 38.8 percent from downtown through the first 10 games. It's been a massive development for a guard who already played tenacious defense and competed at a high level. Now he's added a career-high 2.6 threes and 11.7 points per game to his repertoire.
But Danny Ainge isn't the least bit surprised by Smart's success, as he explained in his weekly interview with Toucher & Rich on Thursday. The Celtics president of basketball ops highlighted the multiple hand injuries and other issues that Smart dealt with over the past few seasons that slowed his growth as a three-point shooter.
"My opinion of Marcus was, I thought that when we drafted Marcus that he had a chance to be a good three-point shooter with his mechanics and so forth. And he he started out bad," Ainge said. "But then he had, if you remember, he had a couple of years with he had a messed up hand, right hand. He had thumb surgery and he was playing with a splint on his hand in the playoffs one year. He had the situation where he had a bunch of stitches put in his right hand, he punched a mirror.
"And so he's gone through some of that and I think that that has affected his three-point percentage in years prior. But last year Marcus shot the ball great from three. I think he was a 36 percent three-point shooter last year."
Ainge made another salient point. It's hard to dismiss Smart's shooting just by looking at numbers when the only number Smart cares about is a letter ... the letter W.
"The thing I appreciate about Marcus, you can't just look at percentages," Ainge said. "Marcus is a guy on our team who will shoot the ball from three-quarter court as the buzzer's sounding, or as the shot clock is going down he'll heave it where a lot of players just hold it to protect their percentages. Marcus doesn't care about that stuff. He's all about winning the game.
"But I think Marcus has been a good three-point shooter all year last year. One year he shot over 40 percent from the three-point line during the playoffs, in our long Eastern Conference run. So I'm not surprised that people are starting to recognize him as a three-point shooter."
Listen to the full interview with Ainge below. The Marcus Smart comments begin at the 7:38 mark.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].