BOSTON (CBS) — A slimmer Marcus Smart is ready for Celtics training camp on Tuesday, eager to show off his new frame.
But the pesky guard is adamant that the pounds he shed in the offseason won’t take away from the bruising defensive game he displayed on a nightly basis.
Celtics president of baksetball ops. Danny Ainge said he requested that Smart drop some weight this offseason, and it’s easy to understand why. Smart appeared out of sorts during Boston’s postseason run, looking out of breath and exhausted for long stretches. Also citing back problems, Smart listened to Ainge and lost 20 pounds over the offseason. In addition to hitting the gym like a madman, he hired a chef and changed up his diet, ditching the fried food he used to enjoy so much.
He weighed in at 223 pounds at Monday’s Media Day in Canton, and it didn’t take long for the guard’s teammates to notice to this new Marcus Smart though. Al Horford said the slimmer version of Smart was catching lobs and making 360 dunks during offseason workouts, while Jaylen Brown said he looks faster and is jumping higher.
“It’s weird,” said Brown said of Smart.
It’s a shrewd move by the 23-year-old, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Dropping the weight should mean he isn’t as gassed during his tough defensive assignments, and he should have more bounce in his step on the offensive end. We’ve been pleading with Marcus to attack the basket more, and with a little less lbs in tow, he may just do it in his fourth NBA season.
Obviously, a little less of the 6-foot-4 guard could mean a step back when it comes to bumping bodies with bigger players. Smart was tasked with containing some power forwards over the last few years, often surrendering quite a bit of height, but it was something he was able to do thanks to his strength.
Fret not; Smart is assuring everyone he’ll still give off that linebacker feel on the hardwood.
“My strength has never been lost,” Smart said confidently.
Smart is ready to guard whoever Brad Stevens asks him to, and is expecting to see more of the league’s best guards with Avery Bradley no longer his defensive counterpart in the Boston backcourt. Like Smart’s extra pounds, Bradley is one of the several familiar faces no longer in Boston, with just four returning members of last season’s squad following Danny Ainge’s summer of blockbuster moves.
Smart isn’t worried about the lack of continuity on the roster, because the message in the locker room remains the same.
“Even though we lost a core group of guys, the culture and attitude in the locker room hasn’t changed,” said Smart.