The Boston Celtics have no shortage of All-Star caliber players. Point guard Kemba Walker leads the charge in terms of appearances, being selected to the game on four separate occasions. Forward Jayson Tatum will likely blow that number out the water as his career surges on, already receiving the honor twice at just 23 years of age. Don’t expect Tatum’s running mate Jaylen Brown to wallow far behind. The 24-year-old earned his first All-Star nod this season and if his 40-point, 85.0% shooting showing against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night is any indication, it certainly won’t be his last.
However, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel believes there’s one other Celtics player worthy of being added to that bunch.
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Frank Vogel Has High Praise for Celtics’ Marcus Smart
As mentioned above, Jaylen Brown may have stolen the show in the Celtics’ most recent outing. Yet, that’s not to say the efforts of Brown’s teammate, Marcus Smart, went unnoticed in the eyes of Vogel, who went out of his way to praise the Boston guard.
“He’s an All-Star-caliber player in my mind,” the Lakers coach said of Smart, via Celtics.com’s Taylor Snow.
Smart, who has made a name for himself throughout the years as a defensive stalwart, has flaunted a more well-rounded game this season in what is his seventh-NBA campaign. Through 37 games (34 starts), the Oklahoma State product is averaging 13.4 points on 34.1% shooting from the field, as well as 35.9% from beyond the arc, to go along with 5.6 assists per game — all of which rank within the veteran’s top-three single-season outputs over his career.
His production in Thursday’s 121-113 victory over the Lakers looked eerily similar to these numbers. Smart finished the game with 15 points on 62.5% shooting from the field, six rebounds, four assists and one steal. Over his last 10 games, Smart owns a 47.3% field goal percentage and hasn’t averaged below 40.3% in a single month since December. Yes, he still tosses up the occasional heat check from time to time, but for a player who entered the year owning a career-field goal percentage of 37.3%, you’ve got to acknowledge the growth.
Smart already has a plethora of NBA honors under his belt, as the former No. 6 overall pick is riding back-to-back NBA All-Defensive First Team selections. Between his gradual growth on the offensive end and his age — still just 27 years old — it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Smart to make Vogel’s assessment a reality. With that said, with a duo of stars (Brown & Tatum) ahead of him in the pecking order and another steadily returning back to his pre-injury form (Walker), it may prove difficult for Smart to put up the gaudy numbers worthy of earning All-Star honors while in Boston.
Either way, All-Star or no All-Star, Smart’s importance to the Celtics is no secret and his skillset is clearly appreciated throughout the NBA landscape.
Vogel Talks Brown’s Historic Night
Smart wasn’t the only Celtics player to earn Vogel’s praise following Thursday’s game. Jaylen Brown was lights out for the majority of the night. In fact, after missing his first shot 87 seconds into the game, he went on to knock down all of his next 14 shots from 2-point range. Brown’s efforts helped etch his name into the team’s history books, becoming the first player in franchise history to score 40 points in a game while shooting 85%-plus from the field.
“First of all, credit to him,” Vogel said of Brown. “A remarkable performance, 17-for-20 from a guard is really a special performance. … In the second half, we were supposed to double-team him far more effectively than we did. We had several breakdowns. … We were late and ineffective, so disappointed in that part of the game, but credit to Brown for a great performance.”