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Boston Celtics rookie Marcus Smart played 28 minutes in the team's season-opening blowout of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. He made all 28 of those minutes count, posted a team-best +20 point ratio when he was on the floor.
Smart finished with just 10 points and two assists, but he also had zero turnovers and lived up (and exceeded) coach Brad Stevens' expectations from a defensive and leadership standpoint.
"Marcus wasn’t the sixth pick in the draft because he’s the next Kevin Durant, as far as scoring the ball," Stevens explained, via Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com. "He’s going to be able to score it great, he can get to the paint, he can shoot the ball, but I don’t think anybody -- Marcus himself -- would say that he’s on pace to be a 30-point scorer at some point in his career. What separates him is the intangibles."
"I told him that before the game," Stevens continued. "We met real briefly and -- I said this to a group of kids [on Tuesday] -- I’ve coached a lot of guys that are great great guys and he’s one of the most unique people I’ve coached in his ability to raise the energy level of your team and you can see that already. When things were bad, things were going kinda south, you felt like he was going to help turn the momentum, just in an emotional way."
Smart's leadership qualities and basketball sense go way beyond his 20 years of age. If he continues to put the best of himself to good use on the floor, the NBA Rookie of the Year award could be his for the taking.
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