addByline("Marc D'Amico", "Celtics.com", "Marc_DAmico");
BOSTON – The Celtics learned Wednesday night that their prized rookie, Marcus Smart, has been named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for February.
The news arrived just two days after teammate Isaiah Thomas earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors.
Smart has been on a steady track of improvement throughout this season. His statistics have improved across the board since November, landing him far more playing time on the court.
Brad Stevens called Smart’s name for an average of 32.5 minutes per game during 11 February games. Doing so led to increased production from Smart in nearly every facet of the game.
The point guard averaged 9.8 points per game during February, marking the top scoring month thus far in his rookie season. He averaged 7.5 PPG during January and 5.3 PPG during December.
The biggest statistical jump on Smart’s monthly resume came in the rebounding department. He nearly doubled his December and January average of 2.4 rebounds per game by grabbing 4.5 RPG during February. That number ranked fifth on the team among Celtics who appeared in more than six contests.
As Boston’s starting point guard, Smart also seems to be finding his groove as a passer. He dished out 4.3 assists per game during February, his second consecutive month with that average. Smart also had an assist ratio (number of assists a player averages per 100 possessions) of 25.7, ranking second on the Celtics, who stand as the East’s top assist team.
The combination of Smart’s scoring, rebounding and passing skills helped Boston become a much more efficient offensive team last month. The C’s notched an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 104.4 with Smart on the court. Among the Celtics who spent the entire month with Boston, only Jae Crowder’s offensive rating of 109.4 ranked higher.
Smart, already known as a very good defender, had a fantastic month at the defensive end as well. He ripped an average of 1.6 steals per game during the month, far surpassing his previous monthly best of 1.1 SPG. He grabbed a career-high five steals on Feb. 20 in Sacramento.
The most important factor to Smart’s honor was the fact that he was a major contributor to a successful Celtics team. Boston went 7-4 during February, ranking as the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference during the month. The Celtics outscored opponents by an average of 2.7 points per game while he was on the court.
Boston’s team accomplishments seem to be most important to Smart. The rookie addressed the media about his award following following Wednesday night’s win over Utah and made it clear that he’s less concerned with his personal accolades than he is with the future success of his team.
“It was good news to hear,” he said of winning the award, “but it doesn’t really mean anything right now. This team is still in rebuilding stage and we’re still trying to make the playoffs. That’s my biggest concern.”
This Celtics team is certainly talented enough to attain such a lofty goal. The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week and the reigning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month are both donning green and white.