Marcus Smart is everything the Grizzlies need and everything the Celtics will miss

Marcus Smart (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
Marcus Smart (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Boston Celtics don’t realize how much of a loss Marcus Smart will end up being. 

Just two years ago during the 2021-22 NBA season, Boston Celtics faithful Marcus Smart won the coveted Defensive Player of the Year award. This award had been given to bigs in the past, but Smart turned the clock back to Gary Payton to win this award. He brought an attitude to Boston on a rather quiet roster. He became the mouthpiece for the team, and he brought leadership whether the young players were listening to it or not.

That same attitude is needed in Memphis. Going back to the Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol days of “Grit ‘n Grind,” there hasn’t been that same feel. The mouth says one thing, while the play says something different. When you think of Grit ‘n Grind presently, I think of Marcus Smart.

Marcus Smart embodies everything the Memphis Grizzlies need

With his hard-nosed style of play, defensive versatility, and championship experience, Smart is just what Memphis needs. He can use his linebacker build to guard bigs, he can guard forwards and the best perimeter player and still be a connective piece on offense.

A divisive factor of Smart is adultness. If anyone needs a dose of adulthood it’s Memphis, more specifically Ja Morant. Sure, Memphis had Steven Adams, but he was a quiet adult. Ja needs that vocal leadership. With the suspension of Ja for 25 games, Smart can fill in admirably for him and be a backcourt mate as well.

Memphis’ problem was with maturity and Smart can help deal with that. If Ja keeps his head on straight, which Smart will help, the Memphis Grizzlies are again a team to be reckoned with.

If the Grizzlies were to lose Dillion Brooks and they are able to replace him with a former DPOY winner Marcus Smart, that is a certified upgrade. Smart is an upgrade from Tyus Jones, as steady as Jones was, Smart adds defensive intensity.

Did Smart lose his spot in Boston to Derrick White? White was a great player in the postseason and could have uprooted Smart for his position. White averaged one less point in five fewer minutes. White was a better shooter from the 3 and overall field goal percentage. White outplayed Smart. Percentages are one thing, but the impact on and off the court will be missed in Boston.

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As good as Smart may be on paper, there is a reason outside of his play he was moved. His style of play isn’t prone to longevity. The mileage, physicality, and durability are a concern. Just like Boston, the on and off-court effects of having Marcus Smart on your roster are guaranteed a postseason trip. As good as Kristaps Porzingis was in D.C., Smart is a good gamble by the young Memphis Grizzlies.