Marcus Smart is the perfect building block for the Celtics next phase.
Jeremiah Short on December 24, 2014 - 4:35 pm
Boston Celtics, NBA, NBA Draft, NBA Top Story, NBA: Eastern Conference, Uncategorized
Jeremiah Short, Feature Columnist


The Boston Celtics have decided to end the Rajon Rondo era and start the Marcus Smart era. While it’s a bit premature, it’s the right move for an organization in the midst of a rebuilding project.

Nearly a week ago, the Celtics traded away Rajon Rondo, who was the last remnant of the “Big 3” era. The move didn’t come as a surprise-as it was inevitable following their selection of Marcus Smart, a point guard, with the 6th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

The immediate question: Is Smart ready to take over?

The answer: yes and no.

Smart isn’t quite ready to handle everything that comes with being a point guard in the NBA. His shot selection is still suspect. His jumper is weak. And he’s only been playing the position for two years. All reasons to be hesitant on turning the reigns of an entire organization over to the passionate, first-year player.

Smart’s intangibles make up for his lack of polish, though. He’s a tremendous leader and has overcome a rough background to become a top pick in the NBA Draft. In addition to his intangibles, he’s a terrific defensive player with the length(6’9.25 wingspan) and size(6’3, 227) to guard three positions: point guard, shooting guard and small forward.

“Some of that stuff depends on the personality, how you play, what your expectations of that person are,” said Stevens. “You can be a floor leader and not have the ball all the time. He has the disposition to be a leader. He has a lot of growth that has to occur because he’s 20-years-old. But one thing we know right out of the gate is that we have a lot of versatility defensively with that lineup.”

The other interesting aspect of the Celtics making Smart their franchise player and jettisoning Rondo is that it would have been the right organizational decision even if they were both 20-year olds.

Here’s why.

Smart is more versatile: Rondo is a great defender and has the ability to guard two positions—point and shooting guard. But offensively, he can only play point guard.

Smart is the exact opposite. He can guard the three positions I mentioned earlier in the column. And eventually as he develops, he’ll be able to man those positions offensively, as well.

Smart is less mercurial: Smart’s incident with the Texas Tech fan last year is well-documented. I actually wrote a column in response to it. He hasn’t garnered a reputation as a malcontent or ticking time bomb, though. If the shoving incident is taken into context (His mother was being rushed to the hospital before the game.), I think it would be viewed more sympathetically, instead of with derision.

Rondo in retrospect has the reputation as a mercurial, volatile player who the Celtics were hesitant to give a big contract to because of those issues. I don’t make that statement to cast aspersions on Rondo. Franchise player’s normally have issues. Ego. Entourages. Off-the-court drama. But they have to at least be manageable. Rondo isn’t manageable.

Smart fits the franchise player model: Before the 2013-2014 NBA season, I introduced an equation to evaluate franchise players. I broke them down into three types: the dominant big man, the swingman and the playmaking point guard.

Smart fits the playmaking point guard model. Yes, he’s still transitioning and learning the position. But as he gains experience, I think he will resemble a more powerful, physical John Wall type of player with better defensive skills.

With the right pieces around him, Smart could lead the Celtics back to prominence sooner rather than later. The Celtics have accumulated the draft picks to bring in some of those pieces to put around him.

2015 NBA Draft: two 1st-round picks, three 2nd-round picks.

2016 NBA Draft: two 1st-round picks, four 2nd-round picks.

2017 NBA Draft: one 1st-round picks, one 2nd-round picks.

For a rebuilding project that I view as a three-year process, those draft choices will be valuable assets. The 2015 Draft is loaded, too. Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, Stanley Johnson and Emmanuel Mudiay will likely be available. Assuming the Celtics miss the playoffs, they would be in position to take at least one of those talents.

It’s not like the Celtics don’t have pieces already in place, though. Kelly Olynyk had a solid rookie season. Jared Sullinger is a solid big. Evan Turner is flashing some of the potential that he showed at Ohio State. And James Young, my number-one rated shooting guard in the 2014 Draft, could be an excellent wingman to Smart.

“The confidence that [the organization] has in these young players, including myself, is tremendous,” Smart said. “It was a big move from the guys upstairs and just showed how they believed in these young guys and this young team that they have.

The team-first attitude exhibited in this quote is exactly why the Celtics future is bright with Smart leading the way.

Catch me on the “SportsKrib” on Wednesday’s 8-9 Central and Thursday’s 8-10 Central. Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist.


 
 
Jeremiah Short on December 1, 2014 - 8:05 AM
NBA, NFL, Uncategorized
Jeremiah Short, Feature Columnist


What’s doing the right thing?

That’s the question I’ve asked myself the past week after the “Ferguson” grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson.

Should I incite the riot or do I calm it down? It’s really a tough dilemma for most in the Black community.

On one hand, we’re upset that another unarmed black teen was gunned down like his life didn’t matter. On the other hand, we don’t know all the full details and don’t want to make someone out to be a martyr who doesn’t deserve the distinction.  

It’s especially close to my heart–as I’ve been racially profiled and branded a criminal when I was just trying to drive home after a long night working at a newspaper. There’s nothing more dehumanizing than police dogs surrounding your car and being carted off to jail for a frivolous charge. I was exonerated and escaped with my life. Sadly, many young brothers aren’t so lucky.

Viewing Ferguson through a sports lens, I’ve been touched by the words of LeBron James and Ben Watson. Watson’s Facebook post on Ferguson was poignant and gripping. His words captured what most in the black community were feeling regarding Ferguson.

Pain. Sadness. Anger. Curiosity.

The black community does want justice for another black life lost. But they also want to know how to prevent it from happening again. Next time this happens it could be their brother. It could be their father. It could be THEM.

How do we prevent another senseless murder? UNITY.

Unity in the black community. Unity in the white community. And unity between the black and white community.

The black community must unite so that we can mobilize and push for change in a positive way. And I don’t mean by rioting. That’s destructive to our own communities and confirms a thought process that black people are animals who don’t know how to act right.

The white community must show unity, as well. They must come together and decide that they’re tired of young, black kids getting killed, too. It’s tough for some whites to empathize. But they have to if change is to happen.

Ultimately, the black and white communities need to come together and unite as one to bridge the racial divide in America. I’ll be frank in saying that I’m tired of the back and forth every time a sensitive racial topic comes across the news feed.

It’s literally always the same conversation.

Black Person: Oh, the cop was racist and killed the kid for no reason.

White Person: Oh, he was a thug who wasn’t raised right.

Black Person: Oh, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just defending your own.

White Person: Oh, I’m tired of y’all pulling the race card.

And it goes on for days with no resolution. No one stops and tries to figure out the real details of the situation. They just go back and forth destroying each other. I’m tired of it. Not only am I tired of it. …I’m sick and tired of it.

Everyone needs to STOP!!!

How do we unite? We unite by first starting the dialogue.

As a Christian, I feel the first place to start is in the Church. It’s been said that the most segregated place in America is the Church on Sunday mornings.  It’s unfathomable that the Christian community is so separated–especially when they’re commanded to come together as one.

“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought,” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:10.

With the church community coming together as one, that would help with the second part of my plan to unite everyone: understanding.

People fear what they don’t understand. Let’s eliminate that fear and understand each other. Once the dialogue starts in the Church community and then grows into the community at large, the racial barriers will start to get broken down. That “black” friend will become a friend. That “white” friend will become a friend. We’ll start to see each other as people, not a person from another race.

Finally, I think America can unite through sport. Sport has a way of uniting people. It’s no surprise that football, the most popular sport in America, is the one that all races love. It goes beyond the field of play. Athletes have a unique ability to make people pay attention and inspire change. Articles get written when St.Louis Rams’ players hold their hands up in solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson. Instagram posts from LeBron James get reposted and shared across social media. Facebook post from Ben Watson go viral and make people think.

Sport has the power to galvanize and unite people. Unity is what we all should want. That’s the only way the racial divide will be bridged in America.

Catch me on the “SportsKrib” on Wednesday’s 8-9 Central and Thursday’s 8-10 Central. Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist.