So Josh Smith will be a Detroit Piston next year. I live in Atlanta, so I’ve heard about Josh’s pluses and minuses for a long time now. But if he’s new to you, here is a snapshot.
Let’s start with the positives first. Smith is a force on defense. He uses his athleticism to affect the opposing offense. He was a top-10 player in blocks per game in the league last year. For a Pistons team that ranked 24th in Defensive Rating in 2012-2013, and for a franchise that has built its best teams around defense, this should be a welcomed site. He’s also a great defensive rebounder. His 21.3 DRB% would have been third on Detroit last year behind only Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. For a team that was 24th in DRB% last year, this is again a welcomed addition.
The negatives, however, are centered around his offense. Smith is a high usage player who turns the ball over a lot and can’t shoot well beyond the paint. Atlanta Hawks fans have long had a love-hate relationship with Smith and most of the hate is centered around his frequent shooting of long twos. This raises extra concern among Pistons fans because with Monroe and Drummond, Detroit needs people to shoot outside to create spacing in the paint. This seems to be an open invitation for Smith to continue doing what he does poorly: shooting a high number of low-percentage shots.
Many may question whether Smith is a good fit, considering Monroe and Drummond will command many minutes in the post. Though a legit concern, I think we can all admit that Josh Smith is a talent upgrade to the roster that needed an upgrade in talent. He also plays great defense, and that should always be welcomed in Detroit. As a result, let’s reserve judgement and see how the Pistons fill out the rest of the roster before getting too hung up on fit.
Finally, let’s speculate on intangibles. Sometimes a fresh start is all a player needs to take his game to the next level. Smith did not seem to be in the Hawks long-term plans and that very well could have affected him throughout the season. I don’t want to speculate too much on this, nor do I want to make excuses for anyone. However, Smith has played in Atlanta since he graduated from high school to the NBA. Maybe the switch to Detroit will help bring out a new aspect of Josh Smith’s game. That may be naive optimism, but stranger things have happened.