PORTLAND, Ore. - The NBA education of Marcus Banks
continues to be an unpredictable process. While the second-year point
guard says all the right things about learning the game, being patient,
and earning the trust of his teammates, his words often translate
inconsistently into action. Unquestionably gifted athletically, it
remains to be seen whether Banks has the physical and mental abilities
to succeed as a professional.
"I've been happy and unhappy with [his performances]," said Celtics
coach Doc Rivers. "Marcus is up and down, but he's gotten much better.
The thing with Marcus is look at him last year to this year. He's made
some huge improvements. Now, we're trying to get those improvements to
be more consistent. And for him to be just more of a consistent player.
going to take time and repetition and positive reinforcement more than
negative reinforcement, and doing it over and over again right. He'll do
it right twice, then once wrong. So, that's what it is. But I look at
him this summer and I look at him now and there's a world of difference.
So, he has made some progress, but he has a long way to go. He should
have a long way to go."
coaching Banks can be both trying and rewarding. Against Golden State,
Rivers wanted to instruct Banks before a particular possession midway
through the game. Banks held up his right hand like a police officer
stopping traffic. The hand signal angered Rivers, prompting him to
sternly shout, "You come over here." A cowed Banks quickly ran over to
"Marcus just always does this [puts up his hand like a stop signal] because he doesn't want to hear anything," said Rivers.
to both sides, it was a minor incident. But it's no secret it can be
tough to get through to Banks. He has been more receptive to
constructive criticism this season, particularly from former point guard
Rivers and veteran point guard Gary Payton. The more Banks plays, the
more the 23-year-old recognizes he needs to learn. And with Delonte West
likely missing at least six more weeks with a fractured right hand,
Banks will continue to receive more playing time than he might have
expected when the season started.
main objective is just to get better every day," said Banks. "I just
want to work. That's probably all I can say. It's just an opportunity to
get better. In due time, it's all going to fall into place. The main
thing is winning games and jelling with the team and going out there
playing as solid as I can."
Banks shows that he can make significant contributions, he may be
enjoying his last significant window of opportunity with the Celtics.
West quickly earned the backup spot one game after returning from a
broken right thumb. There's no reason to think West won't be back in the
same role shortly after he returns from his latest injury.
main thing he wants me to do is make my teammates better when I'm out
there on the court," said Banks. "You see what you can and can't do when
you get out there on the court. The NBA game is sometimes quick and
there's other times when you've got to slow it down. But the main thing
is getting the best shot on offense you can possibly get and make sure
you're out there running your team."
last night's game against the Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden, Banks
was averaging 4.5 points and 1.5 assists in 13.4 minutes per game. He
posted a season-high 20 points against Orlando Nov. 29, in perhaps the
best game of his career. It was not the points that made the performance
stand out, but rather his productive pacing of play. Rivers and Payton
would still like to see more assists from Banks, who tied a season high
with four assists against Toronto Dec. 3.
playing at a better speed for us," said Rivers. "He's not out of
control and he's not walking the ball. He usually goes one or the other.
Full speed or slow. Now, he's changing gear, playing the game at
different speeds, which allows him to get to where he wants on the
floor. Where I want him to improve is doing that same thing and not only
getting himself something, but getting his teammates something. I'd
love to see a game where Marcus dominates the game without taking a
shot. That would be phenomenal."