In focus: Smart's defense

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On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix Tweeted how scouts consider Boston Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart the potential next "great perimeter defender." Smart's defensive potential isn't in question, but it did get us wondering just how well he graded out last season during his sophomore season at Oklahoma State.

A handful of stats that stand out while examining the defensive stats logged by Synergy Sports:

• Of the 279 Division 1 players that defended at least 250 possessions last season, Smart ranked fourth while allowing a mere 0.655 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data. Opponents shot just 27.6 percent against him overall. Smart also created turnovers on 13.9 percent of those total plays defended, a number that ranked him in the top quarter of that same sample.

• Sticking with that same sample, Smart ranked fifth in score percentage (the percentage of possessions that finished with points) with opponents scoring on just 29 percent of total possessions last season. The average was 36.1 percent.

• Zoom in on Smart in strictly man-to-man situations and his numbers improved even more. Smart allowed 0.618 points per possession, a number that ranked in the 95th percentile among all defenders. Of those with at least 225 defended possessions in man-to-man defense, Smart ranked fifth overall among 243 qualifiers.

• The number that jumps out most in Synergy's play-type breakdown: Smart in post-up situations. Maybe showcasing his physicality, Smart allowed a mere 0.545 points per play defending in the post, while creating turnovers on 31.8 percent of those possessions (albeit, a small sample of just 22 possessions defended).

With all numbers, we remind you to take into consideration that Synergy numbers grade only possessions finished as it's almost impossible to fully quantify Smart's perimeter defense (for instance, he doesn't get credit in a situation where his defense forces the shot clock low and another player takes the late-clock shot).

But the bottom line is that last season's sample as a whole reflects well on him as a defender, as did his glimpses at summer league (though his Synergy numbers weren't nearly as glossy; as he allowed 0.792 points per play overall in a small sample of 53 total possessions finished).

Our friend Jay King over at MassLive.com did a nice job rounding up some quotes from the summer where Celtics coaches/players gushed about Smart's defensive potential.