Boston Celtics star Marcus Smart has a message for people who criticize him for not being a traditional point guard.
Speaking to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe on Tuesday, Smart said the Celtics' run to the 2022 NBA Finals is enough validation that he is the right point guard for this team.
"We've had star point guards, and yet this so-called non-point guard is the only one that's led them to the Finals," he said. "I think that right there says enough. I don't really need to say too much more. I think everybody sees and understands, finally, the person I really am, and what I can do given the opportunity."
Smart began his career as Boston's backup point guard or at shooting guard when Rajon Rondo, Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker were on the team.
The Celtics made Smart their starting point guard for the 2020-21 season. He's taken to the expanded role well, leading the team in assists in each of the past two campaigns.
There are certainly limitations to his game, particularly on the offensive end of the court. He's not an efficient scorer, with a 38.2 percent field-goal rate in his career (41.0 percent since the start of the 2020-21 season).
Smart's 5.9 assists per game in 2021-22 were tied with Malcolm Brogdon and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for 27th in the NBA.
Despite not being a dynamic offensive player, Smart certainly makes a profound impact on defense. He tied for fourth among all point guards with 1.7 steals per game and posted the third-lowest defensive rating among all players at the position (107.1) last season, according to StatMuse.
Smart's efforts earned him Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton in 1995-96.
Among that list of previous Celtics point guards, Smart wouldn't be the No. 1 choice in a fantasy draft. Irving is one of the most dynamic scorers in NBA history. Thomas was an excellent offensive player during his two-year peak in Boston.
Yet neither one of them could get the Celtics over the hump in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Smart stepped up big in several postseason games during Boston's run to the Finals, including with two 24-point games in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
Even though Smart isn't a perfect point guard in the traditional sense, he seems to be a great fit for this iteration of the Celtics roster.