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The Marcus Smart Mentality

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In this new, modernized landscape of the NBA, versatility is power.

Seven-foot centers are shooting at a revolutionary clip from beyond the arc. Point guards are actually averaging triple-doubles, and the term “positionless basketball” might be more relevant now than ever before.

Marcus Smart probably isn’t the first name that pops into your head when you think about a do-it-all type of player. It’s also true that the majority of teams probably don’t game plan around a nervousness that he could drop 50 points on any given night.

However. Smart brings something very unique, yet strangely familiar to this new era of Celtics basketball. His tough, blue-collar style resonates perfectly with Boston fans. In a city where historical confidence and pride definitely isn’t lacking, it pays to be an old soul.

That’s exactly what Marcus Smart is.

The mentality with which Smart approaches the game can be best described with a reference from Stephen King’s coming of age novel, The Body.

It is the key phrase from Milo Pressman’s character, a grumpy old junkyard owner—who is never without his notoriously ferocious dog, Chopper—that sends chills down the spines of his unsuspecting victims:

“Sic’em, boy.”

It’s the same feeling that offensive players get when they cross half court and Smart is patiently waiting to pounce. Like Chopper, Marcus Smart has shown a concise ability to turn his aggression on and off like a switch: On one end of the floor, he’s an intelligent offensive presence, an effective playmaker and versatile option in seemingly any lineup that Brad Stevens concocts in his coaching cauldron. On the other, a cold, heartless killer.

It’s the attack-dog mentality that defines Smart as a player. A fearless kill-or-be-killed view of the world was developed at a very young age, as he grew up the youngest of four brothers. In an interview with Bill Doyle of SouthCoastToday, Smart said:

“They all played basketball, football and everything like that. So growing up in my household, you got to fight for your own. If you wanted something, you had to speak up or you wouldn’t get it.”

To this day, he carries himself in much the same way. In an ultra-competitive league like the NBA, adaptability is the key to survival. For Smart, that means guarding a 6’1” point guard on one possession, and covering a 6’9” power forward on the next. The thing that’s becoming more and more apparent is his love of the challenge.

The hunt, the chase, and the kill.

Who the defensive assignment happens to be on each possession has become somewhat irrelevant. Smart is out for blood, plain and simple.

The hard-nosed “fuck you” approach to basketball is sown into the very fibre of Celtics uniforms. Looking back at the likes of Bird, Parish, Havlicek and even Pierce and Garnett, they have a lot in common. Boston players are a special breed. They learn and adapt to this way of life. The relentless passion of the fans becomes almost a source of power in the heat of battle. They want to win for the city, for the crowd, and for the storied history of the franchise.

Smart is quickly becoming one of those players. He has the confidence to take the fate of the game into his own hands—just ask the Toronto Raptors. He’ll glue himself to the opposing team’s best closer. He’ll win some, and he’ll lose some. But he’ll always go down fighting.

Smart is instinctively protective, obedient and loyal. He has a job to do and a role to play just like everyone else. The difference here, however, is that Smart won’t let anything—or anyone—get in his way.

As a huge fan of basketball, and most importantly the NBA, Andrew Miller lives and breathes basketball. Graduating from the Marketing program at the University of the West of Scotland, Andrew has taken his love for basketball and talent as a wordsmith, and melded himself into basketball writing virtuoso.

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Year 15 | A Mini Documentary

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What’s to come for the man on top, and what got him here?

It’s Year 15 of a man’s career, but it’s also Year 15 of a legacy…

Created by Tristan Laughton | Twitter: @Ctrice

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Editorial

Something Out of Nothing

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It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.

We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.

Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.

It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.

We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.

I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.

Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.

The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).

Stay tuned, because it’s not over.

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Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers

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Lonzo Ball is the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. The new savior. The Big Baller Brand is now here to stay and LaVar Ball’s family’s future is set. But is that enough?

Lonzo Ball is a great kid and athlete who knows his talent will take him to another level. The major question mark that remains is whether or not he will take the Lakers there as well. He has the platform and skillset to do so, but with that comes the added pressure from the city and league to basically become part of the next version of Kobe and Shaq. It’s too strainful for a young kid—a rookie—to achieve.  

Magic Johnson, the recently named President of Basketball of Operations for the Lakers, is taking an aggressive approach to get this team back into playoff contention his first year in. One of his first moves was sending D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick. Brook Lopez is definitely an upgrade at center, but has a couple of years already under his belt.   

Lopez will provide a much needed veteran presence with a great IQ for the game at his position. The only downfall is that a couple of years under his belt doesn’t really transfer to great experience, but simply wasted miles on his body. He isn’t as quick as he used to be and doesn’t even rank in the top 10 centers in the league. In fact, Bleacher Report had him last season at exactly 15 out of the top 30 centers in the NBA. While he is has improved by adding the three-point range to his arsenal, there is no doubt that he is nearly past his prime, and although he can still contribute on a nightly basis, who knows how much and what effect it will have with Lonzo Ball running the point.  

Ball has great court vision that has been often compared to that of LeBron James. Combined with his passing skills, he is a true PG with tremendous upside in the backcourt. With that being said, he will only reach a certain extent. His full potential is years from being maximized and people are buying into it early on. In fact, the pressure for him to lift a sub .500 team to the playoffs for the first time in five years is daunting. 

These are Lonzo Ball’s stats during his rookie—and only—year at UCLA: 

  • 14.6 Points
  • 7.6 Assists
  • 6.0  Rebounds
  • 1.8 Steals
  • 0.8 Blocks
  • 55.1 FG%
  • 41.2 3P%

He did a tremendous job maintaining that statline and even added a triple-double in the NBA Summer League, earning him the Summer League MVP.  

Don’t get me wrong, Ball seems ready for the challenge and is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent mirroring that of Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, but he is not an All-Star or MVP—at least, not yet. These way-too-early predictions that he is the Lakers’ new savior are farfetched. He has yet to face the elite NBA offensive threats and superstars that have been at it for 10-plus years. Defensively speaking he will not be able to keep up. Not in his first year. He still needs NBA experience and a more rounded roster to be able to reach the playoffs.  

He is off to a good start, but being named NBA Summer League MVP doesn’t necessarily mean a spectacular season is coming as some think it does. Especially if you consider the previous Summer League MVP winners.

Year Nat. Player Pos. Team
2012 Damian Lillard (co-MVPs) PG Portland Trail Blazers
Josh Selby (co-MVPs) PG Memphis Grizzlies
2013 Jonas Valančiūnas C Toronto Raptors
2014 Glen Rice Jr. SG Washington Wizards
2015 Kyle Anderson SF San Antonio Spurs
2016 Tyus Jones PG Minnesota Timberwolves
2017 Lonzo Ball PG Los Angeles Lakers

With the exceptions of Damian Lillard in 2012 and Jonas Valanciunas in 2013, the past five Summer League MVP winners have gone on to produce very mediocre NBA careers. All I’m saying is, don’t read too much into NBA Summer League. It’s the pre-preseason that no one really watches or cares about.  

The NBA season is nearing—exactly a month away—and my somewhat harsh criticism of Lonzo Ball isn’t too cruel. I am just not ready to jump on the Ball bandwagon following LaVar’s prophecies of his son being the Lakers prodigal son. He won’t be. Again, at least not yet. He needs to earn his spot and the transition will surprise him his first year in. It will hit him hard, but, despite my concerns, eventually Lonzo Ball will become a future NBA All-Star and a daring NBA point guard.  

Not yet though, and until then all we can do is prepare for his official NBA debut. Until then, we can enjoy and bask in his newly released rap single paying tribute to his little brother LaMelo Ball.  

If the NBA doesn’t end up being his calling in life, at least he has a back up career in mind.

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