Kirk Goldsberry of Grantland named the worst shooters so far this season, and, sigh, Josh Smith made the cut:
Sometimes I feel like every column I write about bad shooting is a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert and the part where I rant about Josh Smith is “Free Bird.” Everyone knows it’s coming, but I have to do it anyway.
Last summer, I was very excited when Smith entered free agency; I felt that in the proper offense, under the right coach, and alongside the right teammates, something might click and his All-Star potential could finally be unlocked. I have always claimed that if Smith would only focus on offensive rebounding, attacking the basket, and operating on the blocks, he’d be a really great player.
I still feel that way, but Detroit is just not the place, at least right now. It’s an unstable situation, the offensive tactics are unclear at best, and with young bigs like Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond clogging up the paint there’s no room in the Pistons frontcourt. As a result, Smith plays the 3 too much, and in turn he’s taking even more jumpers than he did in Atlanta.
This is like sending Cookie Monster to a rehab run by the Keebler Elves.
What if Smith had landed in a place like Dallas? Something tells me his chart would look different this year. But he’s in Detroit, and I may as well have copied and pasted this chart from his Atlanta days because it feels like a rerun, and this bird has not changed.
You can click through to Grantland to see Goldsberry’s shot chart for Smith. Spoiler alert: It contains a section called “PLEASE STOP THIS.”
Maybe Maurice Cheeks playing Smith less often at small forward will help Smith, but there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.
For one, Smith says he doesn’t look where he is on the court when he shoots. And it shows. Smith should get a little more license to shoot 3-pointers as a small forward, because that helps create space for Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond inside. But Smith, as of last check, has taken a disproportionately high percentage of his 3-pointers as a power forward.
Smith brings a lot of positives to the Pistons, but shooting most definitely not one of them. Goldsberry’s critique is fair – and probably very similar to what will appear in his next edition of the NBA’s worst shooters.