Maligned Josh Smith final Piston ranked in #NBArank

It took 500 players and 14 Pistons, but the newest toy in the Joe Dumars‘ Free Agency Shopping Spree toy box has been ranked in Josh Smith.

The Pistons’ newest lefty forward comes in at No. 36, ahead of other trendy big men in Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins. Not bad company for a guy many seem to think will falter/fail/flop this season.

I’m not sure where this kind of stink of Smith came from. He’s never been a bad player, and there are few forwards who are as versatile as he is. He rebounds, plays good defense on post and perimeter players, can pass the ball along with being a solid offensive player despite his, uh, lapses in shot selection.

There’s just one criticism of Smith that’s completely unfair — he’s not a winner.

First, what the heck is a winner? Second, what is the logic behind saying that Smith isn’t one?

This is a guy who was arguably the best player on teams that made the playoffs in six-straight seasons; including the second round in three of those years. That’s good, if you ask me. That’s something only one Pistons player, Chauncey Billups, can even remotely relate to.

If you want to pick a guy who isn’t a “winner” on the Pistons, well, it’s pretty much the rest of the roster. But I digress, that’s just a player criticism that has always bugged me. If being a winner means being really good and winning championships,then we’ve got about 10 winners in the entire NBA.

If there is one criticism you can sort of reaffirm with Smith (very) early in his tenure with Detroit is how he’s been used offensively. He’s maligned for shooting those long jumpers — once known by Michigan State fans as “the Kalin Lucas” — and through three preseason games, nine of his 19 attempts have been from 3-point range.

Maybe that’s just a useless preseason stat or maybe it’s a sign of not having a comfortable role through three preseason games, but eh. It’s going to happen, maybe not to this volume, but it’ll be an occurrence this season.

Smith is going to shoot from deep — he has to be a threat in order for this offense to work — but as Dan wrote, if he can make all of those loooong 2-point jumpers into 3-point jumpers, it’s a worthy tradeoff.

Regardless of how you feel about Smith’s fit in Detroit, he’s the team’s best player. Period.

The thing about being the best player is that you adapt, and it’d be lazy to assume Smith can’t do that.

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Tags: Chauncey Billups Joe Dumars Josh Smith

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