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Seven positives and three negatives about Josh Smith, the Pistons’ top free agent target

Josh Smith is reportedly the Pistons’ top free-agent target, so let’s get to know the player Joe Dumars covets most.

Positives

In no particular order:

1. Josh Smith is really good. In his best season, Smith had 9.3 win shares – a total only Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Grant Hill have posted as Pistons since the Bad Boys. Smith’s career year came four years ago, but at age 27, hopefully his best days aren’t behind him.

2. See No. 1. Smith would immediately join Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in the discussion for the Pistons’ best player. For a team so bereft of talent in the last few years, this is such a big deal, it deserves two spots on this list.

3. Smith’s contributions are very diverse. He averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game last season. LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Chris Webber, Lamar Odom, Antoine Walker and Karl Malone are the only other players with a 17-8-4 season in the last 15 years.

4. Defensively, Smith has always done a bit of everything. Only Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson have career block-per-game and steal-per-game averages as high as Smith. It’s nice Smith amasses so many steals and blocks, but they alone mean only so much. Those stats are indicative of an all-around defender. Smith allowed less than a point per play last season in every MySynergySports category he defended at least 20 times: isolation, pick-and-roll ball handler, post-up, pick-and-roll man, spot-up, off screen and handoff. Smith’s defensive versatility would be particularly valuable to the Pistons, who lack reliable defenders on the perimeter and in the paint. Smith has the talent to help, game to game, wherever they need it most.

5. Smith is an underrated passer. He led power forwards with 4.2 assists per game last season, and even if he plays more small forward in Detroit, his passing projects well. LeBron James, Nicolas Batum, Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant and Evan Turner were the only forwards – power or small – to average more assists per game.

6. When active, Smith scores well on cuts in the halfcourt offense. He might not have the jumper to space the floor ideally with Monroe and Drummond – Smith has never shot even league-average on 3-pointers – but Smith’s ability to make strong cuts would help space the floor.

7. He cares about the community. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Atlanta means a lot to Smith. He sponsors AAU and high school teams all over the city, paid for the living expenses for the family of Rajaan Bennett — a star football player from his high school who was murdered before he could play at Vanderbilt University — and hosts a Thanksgiving dinner every year for My Sister’s House, a shelter for women and families affected by domestic abuse.

"Sometimes I feel like my tithe to the church is being able to give back to my community," he said. "I grew up in poverty. I wasn’t a rich kid. My dad drove trucks, 18-wheelers.

"My mom had callouses on her hands from doing hair and using the curling irons. My dad used to unload the truck himself just to try and get extra money to buy me shoes. I had one pair of shoes, this pair of navy blue Converse he bought me. And I had to wear them with all my outfits at school and then turn around and play basketball in ‘em.

"So you know, I learned to appreciate the little things."

Negatives

In no particular order:

1. Smith takes too many long 2s, the worst shot in basketball. That, in itself, is problematic. The issue becomes much more troubling considering he shoots very, very poorly on those attempts (and really all jumpers). Smith’s 3.9 2-point shots from at least 15 feet per game ranked 39th in the NBA last season, but only Glen Davis converted a worse percentage of those looks among the top 100 (!) of such attempts per game. Smith stopped shooting 3-pointers – he’s a career 28.3 percent shooter from beyond the arc – in 2009-10, when he took just seven, but he followed that with a then career-high 154 3-point attempts the following year. He topped that with 201 attempts last season. Smith’s penchant for both taking and missing jumpers, especially long 2s, is so extreme, it threatens to undermine all the good in his game.

2. Smith’s free-throw shooting has been erratic. He shot a career-best 72.5 percent in 2010-11, followed with a below-career-average 63.0 percent and then shot a career-worst 51.7 percent last season.

3. Smith can be temperamental and difficult. The Hawks suspended him one game in January for a practice incident. He drew a two-game suspension in 2007 for cursing at then-Atlanta coach Mike Woodson. To his credit, Smith quickly admitted he was wrong in that case. I don’t get the sense Smith is a bad guy, just that his focus on keeping a cool head comes and goes. That same trait shows itself during games, when Smith’s effort and intensity can also come and go.

184 Comments

  • Jul 5, 201310:25 pm
    by Ryan Kelly

    Reply

    Paul milsap would be a terrific player here and not cause he can play sf.   He is a legit stud and every team that wants to be good benefits from 3 good bigs for the c pf positions.   If he can play some sf which I doubt it’s a bonus. 

    • Jul 5, 201311:11 pm
      by Keith

      Reply

      Millsap is actually a pretty good idea if Joe is set on spending. As long as Cheeks rotates the frontcourt smartly, we could fill all 96 PF-C minutes with Millsap-Monroe-Drummond. That might be hard to do in all situations, but certainly not impossible. And Millsap being a quality mid-range shooter helps out whichever big he partners with.
       
      Obviously our ideal would be getting a wing, but if Millsap is cost effective (legitimately worth 10 million a year), it’s a better option than overpaying for position.

  • Jul 5, 201310:27 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    Well, now about the only positive scenario I can imagine is Drummond and Monroe banging knees with each other over the summer and having both miss the entirety of next season.

    All you guys who literally wanted nothing to happen (don’t overpay for anyone) got your wish because there is no one left who represents anything better than having done nothing.   Well, except for Monta Ellis and I can’t stand him as a player and haven’t heard his name.   Hope you are happy next summer when the Gordon trade makes the team lose the draft pick and they totally strike out in an off season when it will be even more difficult to make an impact signing.  

    I’ve never been hoping for injuries before but I just can’t think of a better way for next season to play out now.   

    • Jul 5, 201310:38 pm
      by haydzzz

      Reply

      injuries to our two best big men? really? lol our roster as it stands without jose calderon now is so young that it is bound to be terrible, but promising. but dont count out trades, im sure joe will be doing one because he knows his job is on the line.
       

    • Jul 6, 20131:05 am
      by Jon

      Reply

      more good free agents drives the price down and therefore makes it easier for the pistons to overpay next season if you’re intent on overpaying. the draft is the way to go; that or a trade.

  • Jul 5, 201310:34 pm
    by Desolation Row

    Reply

    At what point do we start debating who the next GM should be?

  • Jul 5, 201310:40 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    Milsap Over JOsh Smith….Only In Detroit! 

    • Jul 6, 20139:38 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Apparently not.

      I don’t think Dumars even gave him a call.

      I think most people consider Smith better than Millsap. I think he’s only slightly better and he loses most of that edge once you account for fit. But even if you think he is significantly better, do you really think he is worth 50% more? 

  • Jul 5, 201310:44 pm
    by Ryan Kelly

    Reply

    Doesn’t matter now.  Looks like milsap to friggin Atlanta. 

  • Jul 5, 201310:51 pm
    by jacob

    Reply

    hahaha Dwight is 50 50 what a fuckhead

  • Jul 5, 201310:51 pm
    by jayg108

    Reply

    Carl Landry would be great for the Pistons, and i think he was just released.  He bangs the boards pretty tough and was iconic down in Houston.  Dude even got shot in the leg and was back in action around a month later.  poor man’s Milsap

    • Jul 5, 201310:59 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      I always liked Landry and think he’s a better fit than Millsap because he isn’t thought of as starter and therefore wouldn’t get in Drummond’s way.

      On the other hand, after having missed out on all of the players that would have actually meant something significant to the Piston’s future, I’m actively hoping for bad players and players who fit as poorly as possible since that is the only way the team can hope to keep its draft pick.   So yeah Landry is a good fit but if he leads to even 2 more wins he could be disastrous to the team’s long term future and that makes him a bad fit.   All good players are now bad fits.   

  • Jul 5, 201311:19 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    Let’s sign Eddie Curry and Antoine Walker.   I hear they are broke and could really use the money.   

  • Jul 5, 201311:21 pm
    by Lorenzo

    Reply

    Hawks have signed Milsap so we can stop with that one.

    • Jul 5, 201311:23 pm
      by Lorenzo

      Reply

      2 year 19 million deal. Pretty good deal for the Hawks I would say…will be interesting to see how he fits with Horford.

      • Jul 6, 20131:24 am
        by tarsier

        Reply

        How did they get him so cheap? Why wasn’t Dumars competing for his services. I would have been ecstatic about having him for 4 yrs and $40M.

  • Jul 5, 201311:27 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    And then there was Monta.   And you guys didn’t like Smith’s efficiency……

    • Jul 6, 201312:26 am
      by jamesjones_det

      Reply

      He should be perfect for Joe…

  • Jul 5, 201311:32 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    4. Josh Smith is a power forward who has never demonstrated the skills to be a full time small forward, even during his best season which was for years ago.

    5. The pistons already have a franchise caliber power forward who is already better at power forwarding than Josh Smith. 

    • Jul 5, 201311:36 pm
      by brgulker

      Reply

      6. Smith is very reliant upon his athleticism to be effective, and he has reached his peak and will only decline in this regard. 

    • Jul 6, 20139:40 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      I wouldn’t trade Monroe for Smith because he is so much younger and has upside. But he is most certainly not “already better at power forwarding than Smith”. That statement is about as ignorant as they get.

  • Jul 5, 201311:44 pm
    by Worm

    Reply

    Well at this point, it’s basically offer Jeff Teague/Jarret Jack if Atlanta matches. Sign maybe Dorrell Wright or something. Punt on this year and try to keep the 1st rounder next year. Could have been worse, could have overpaid a player who won’t help us win in 4 years. Oh well, at least we still have Drummond.

    • Jul 5, 201311:56 pm
      by Matt

      Reply

      That’s basically it too. I guess the hope is that these guys grow as a unit and start to improve. No one really improved last season so they can at least fix that and not get blown out for a week at a time that’ll at least be… something. I guess.

      • Jul 6, 201312:01 am
        by Worm

        Reply

        Good lord I hope Brandon Knight gets a little better. If he can just tighten his handle up, it would have a massive effect on his game. I just realized that Smoove is still out there looking for a big deal and we still have big money… In other news I just cried a little bit.

    • Jul 6, 201312:29 am
      by jamesjones_det

      Reply

      Even if by some god sent Monroe and Drummond turn in to superstars and somehow stay (which I doubt they will since we suck) we still need more than them to do anything more than an early 1st round exit.

  • Jul 6, 201312:08 am
    by Crispus

    Reply

    Damn. There’s no way to know whether Joe made a bunch of offers in good faith and got turned down, or if he’s really slow playing this luxury tax thing and waiting for somebody to panic. Or maybe he is REALLY serious about player development and is just going to play the youth squad all year and create some bogus 1-year contract to reach the payroll floor.
     
    What can you do? Joe and Gores seem to be on the same page. Nobody wanted to go to Detroit I guess. I wouldn’t mind Kirilenko and Hickson on short deals and seeing a lot of Middleton, KCP, Mitchell and English.

  • Jul 6, 201312:16 am
    by Domnick

    Reply

    jack, jennings, teague.. if we can get teague then its good…
    landry as option to PF… we need to get him now!
    for SF? we need to get Gay… and another team to accommodate toronto for additional players..
     
    JOE D MUST MOVE FASTER!

    • Jul 6, 201312:33 am
      by jamesjones_det

      Reply

      For once in Detroit’s history we don’t need a PF, Monroe is decent and you have Jonas as a serviceable backup (hell even CV depending on the night).  We do however need a 1, 2 and 3, that’s where we should be focusing.

      • Jul 6, 20131:30 am
        by tarsier

        Reply

        Detroit needs good players, period. i’ll take them at any position. Ideally they are at the 1, 2, and 3. But better to get a very good 4 or 5 than a decent 1, 2, or 3.

  • Jul 6, 201312:22 am
    by mike

    Reply

    damn, with ATL spending that money on Milsap, and Houston looking into dealing Asik for Ryan Anderson instead, Smith might be left without a team after all this settles. We could still get him.

    • Jul 6, 201312:25 am
      by jacob

      Reply

      Looks like Smith will be a piston as of right now. After ATL signed milsap and pelicans want asik. That leaves Dallas or Detroit.

  • Jul 6, 201312:28 am
    by Max

    Reply

    What a roller coaster! 

  • Jul 6, 201312:39 am
    by Wolverines23

    Reply

    J. Smith is probably signing with Houston, Howard most likely was convinced because he knew Smith was also going to be part of a sign and trade. 

    Chris Broussard        ? @Chris_Broussard

    I’m told Hawks and Rockets working on sign&trade to bring Josh Smith to Hou, probably for Asik and JLin

     

    • Jul 6, 20131:32 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Except they may also be trying to trade for Anderson.

  • Jul 6, 201312:41 am
    by cali piston fan

    Reply

    Am I the only piston fan tired of loosing. Sign Josh Smith and put some talent on the floor.  Stop crying about the dollars unless your signing the check. Carl Landry, Dorrell Wright…………..

    Child Please!

    bring in J Smoove or Rudy Gay, trade for Rondo, sign Billups
    and then we move on to playoff strategies.
       

    • Jul 6, 20131:58 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      I’m not quite sure what loosing is. Maybe what illiterate people do to their belts on thanksgiving. Normally, I try really hard to avoid being a “grammar nazi”, but your tone of superiority just pissed me off. I’m pretty sure all Pistons fans are tired of losing (note the single o).

      Onto the actual content of your comment:

      Why would fans complain about overpaying a guy when they don’t sign the checks? There’s this complicated thing in the NBA called a salary cap. I know this may go beyond your comprehension, but it prevents teams from just spending as much as they feel like. So if a team spends a ton of money on a guy who’s not worth it, that will later hinder their ability to spend it on someone who does. That’s why we want the money spent intelligently. I’d explain to you what intelligently means, but I just don’t know where to begin.

      Trade for Gay or Rondo? Once again, I know this is tough, but you have to understand that professional sports don’t involve all the GMs in a league putting their heads together and figuring out how to best help your favorite teams to win. They are all trying to aid their own teams. So what this means is that when you trade for a good player, you usually have to send back a good player. Acquiring Rondo would help the Pistons. But it would probably cost Monroe. And losing Monroe would hurt the Pistons. This is a key difference you need to understand between trading and signing free agents. When you trade, the trade partner is trying to win the deal.

      Sign Billups? So ummm, just one more tricky concept for you to wrap your head around. Athletes tend to be fairly young. After some point, as they get older, their level of play tends to decline. So even if a player was once really good, younger players who never hit his peak can be better. To help clarify, allow me to give you an example: Wright and Landry are both far superior players to Billups at this point.

  • Jul 6, 20132:01 am
    by gvlaker25

    Reply

    Wow.  I can’t believe the Pistons have done jack this off-season.  Even if they sign Josh Smith (another Ben Gordon-type signing, IMO).  I enjoyed Joe D as a player.  Enjoyed him early on during that amazing run with Mr. Big Shot and co.  But then he made the Darko pick, shipped Mr. Big shot out for AI (COMPLETE waste), signed Ben Gordon and Charlie No-D V.  To see that the ‘Stones best option is Josh Smith is terrible and its time for the man to move on.  Hopefully Mr. Gores will recognize this. 

    • Jul 6, 201311:19 am
      by koz

      Reply

      It ain’t 2006 anymore, you’re right dumars screwed it all up. Put all the blame on billups when iwas his own damn fault he chooses darko over wade bosh and carmelo, that bum AI over billups? crazy, erratic and no loyalty to the guy that got him the title in 2004.
          Word gets around in the NBA players talk :stay out of detroit, they have no loyalty, they’ll screw you over.

  • Jul 6, 20132:04 am
    by gvlaker25

    Reply

    On a side note, if they can get rid of that Diva Stuckey And Charlie No-D V for ANYTHING,  it might be a productive off-season on its own right…

  • Jul 6, 20132:11 am
    by joe

    Reply

    If Dumars sign Smith, Monroe is gonna get traded, especially after this Laker and Howard bullshit!

    • Jul 6, 20139:42 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      How do Howard and the Lakers affect the Pistons likelihood to trade Monroe?

      • Jul 6, 201311:47 am
        by Desolation Row

        Reply

        That was probably the real Joe Dumars commenting…

  • Jul 6, 201310:57 am
    by koz

    Reply

    Let Stuckey run point, quit qitting on him even if he isn’t perfect let him do his best, he’s getting payed play him quit wanting the moon detroit is gonna have to do it the hard way, let the young guys play and mature and grow then you’ll be ready to add veteran talent, drummond is raw the only reliable seasoned player is monroe and you guys want to get rid of him, silly. need  more patience, dumars is so erratic and too demanding on everyone but himself, he made big mistakes let him fix it hopefully he’s learned from them, when things are more stable and reliable in detroit, then talent will be more willing to come and play, not when different coaches are passing through every year or so, guys don’t want to get involved in that crap no matter the money. 

  • Jul 6, 201312:20 pm
    by Aaron Mannicci

    Reply

    I think that if a sign and trade involving Smith going to Houston doesn’t go down in the near future (1-2 days), Smith will be the Pistons new starting Small Forward. Joe will offer a little bit more money to save his job, and he will hope that this signing along with another shooter and big man 

  • Jul 6, 201312:21 pm
    by Aaron Mannicci

    Reply

    ….or a Stuckey trade will propel the Pistons to the playoffs whether it is right or wrong for the future

  • Jul 6, 20134:06 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    SMITH IS A PISTON!    HALLELUJAH!    Best big money free agent in Pistons history.    We are going to the playoffs!  

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