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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.

20 Comments

  • Oct 15, 201312:31 am
    by Ryan

    Reply

    People don’t think he’ll flop they expect him to be similar to what he was in Atlanta. This means we/I expect him to be hugely talented, make highlight plays and be inefficient offensively. We also struggle to see how he’ll fit playing primarily at the three when he has the most impact and has most of his success at the four.

    Given that he doesn’t seem a great fit and the worrying fact that he’s never yet fixed the glaring inefficiencies in his game I view him as a valuable trade asset but not a guy to build around. I had similar worries about Ben Gordon fitting here but view Smith as more tradeable. (Is tradeable a word? If not it should be.)

    • Oct 15, 20133:12 am
      by Some Dude

      Reply

      “This means we/I expect him to be hugely talented, make highlight plays and be inefficient offensively”

      Why? you don’t believe he can/wants to change? The thing that made him inefficient in ATL was his bad shot selection (long 2′s). But that’s it really. You don’t think Josh knows that? or Cheeks, Dumars? I’m pretty sure that has been discussed with him. He’s gonna cut down on what made him inefficient. I know it’s early and only preseason, but look at his numbers:

      FG: 10-19 (5-9 from downtown) FT: 8-14

      Again, I knows it’s only preseason. But this is a good sign, just a matter of if he can sustain it. This team has several scoring options, so he won’t be counted on to shoot a high volume. This teams needs Jennings to take and make his threes more than anything.

      “We also struggle to see how he’ll fit playing primarily at the three when he has the most impact and has most of his success at the four.”

      He’ll primary play the 4, this has been discussed countless times. He’ll get around 15 minutes playing the 3. But will be the primary backup 4 to Monroe. So he will still play his best position. And with 15 minutes at the 3, he’s also the best fit there over Singler and should hold down that position just fine.

      “I view him as a valuable trade asset”

      No way he gets traded right after singing a huge 4 year deal. He’s not some random role player that can just be tossed around the league. When you get a player like Smith, you plan to keep him for a while. If he does get traded, it’s in his final year of his contract. So he’ll be a Piston for several years. 

      • Oct 15, 201310:50 am
        by Ryan

        Reply

        If he cared about being more efficient why didn’t he do that in his half decade in Atlanta?

        If we don’t trade him I expect a few things to happen 1) Joe Dumars will lose his job 2) we won’t get past the first round during his time here and 3) we’ll eventually have to deal him much like we did Ben Gordon.

        • Oct 15, 20131:10 pm
          by CityofKlompton

          Reply

          I agree with Ryan about his shooting. If Dumars and Cheeks know after only a few months, certainly his coaching and management staff knew it in Atlanta through several years.

          • Oct 16, 20132:58 am
            by Some Dude

            He’s 27, entering his prime. Logically, you’d assume everything he does not will he’ll do better at least for the next 4 years. Who knows what happened in ATL? but that’s not important. What’s important is what he does in DET. Sheed has been working on his shot, so hopefully he has a career year this season. It be great to hear Hawk fans say “why the hell didn’t he shoot like that when he was with us?”. I feel that will happen.

  • Oct 15, 20131:34 am
    by sc8581

    Reply

    He’s a better fit than Monroe next to Drummond on both ends that’s for sure.

    • Oct 15, 201310:24 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      How is that “for sure”? We’ve hardly seen Monroe and Drummond play together. On paper, apart from the lack of a jump shot, Monroe and Drummond are nearly perfect compliments. And Monroe’s shooting ability looks awfully similar to Smith’s.

  • Oct 15, 20131:54 am
    by Zdwtr

    Reply

    totally different case than bg. smith is an allstar caliber player. the way he impacted the game without scoring by assisting, playing d, causing double team and his high energy is above the rest of the other maybe dre and moose are the closest caliber player to him. dre in future will be the leader but for now its j smoove. i can feel it from the preseason game

  • Oct 15, 20132:20 am
    by AYC

    Reply

    Smith’s key role is on the defensive end.  He has to be a stopper against the best forwards in the league. 

  • Oct 15, 20135:07 am
    by Tom Y.

    Reply

    That Smith is the Pistons’ best player may be ESPN’s consensus opinioon, and yours, but claiming it as undisputed is a bit much. I’d say he, Monroe and Dre will be roughly at the same level this year. They’re close and it’s hard to tell, though if I had to do my own rating, I’d go the opposite route from ESPN and guess that Dre will be best, then Moose, then Smith.

    • Oct 15, 201310:28 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      True. And ESPN didn’t actually put them that far apart with Drummond at 6.69, Monroe at 7.13, and Smith at 7.23.

    • Oct 15, 201310:34 am
      by Brady Fredericksen

      Reply

      Until we see Drummond start manufacturing some offense that doesn’t come off of a put-back or alley-oop, he’s not the team’s best player.

      • Oct 15, 20131:02 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        How do you figure? If he is single-handedly making the team much, much better on D and he is not a liability on O (even if he’s not creating much), he could easily be the best player.

        I maintain that Ben Wallace was the best player on the championship team. While I recognize that is debatable, you would be wrong to flippantly dismiss that perspective. And I see no reason to believe that Drummond can’t contribute like a prime Wallace.

        • Oct 15, 20131:16 pm
          by CityofKlompton

          Reply

          Ben Wallace is the perfect example of how a player can have the biggest impact on a team without the ball in his hands. Billups was huge for that Pistons team, but I think it’s much harder to replace what Wallace brought to the table. Dwight Howard was the best player on poor Orlando teams for the same reasons before he developed a post game. It’s possible to be a team’s best player without being a polished offensive talent. It’s just more unlikely.

      • Oct 16, 20134:16 am
        by Tom Y.

        Reply

        Tarsier and CityofKlompton already made the case for me, but still I’ll say: it’s not how he produces, it’s how much and how efficiently. Ben Wallace produced a lot of wins with his defense and rebounding despite an almost complete lack of an offensive game, and Howard has been great on both ends of the court without an offensive repertoire.
        A dunk is the most efficient shot in the game, and if Dre can continue to dunk efficiently off lobs and offensive boards, he’ll produce a lot of points efficiently, and that’s on top of his D and rebounding.
        Having said all that, I think he’s also going to develop more offensive skills. Early evidence seems to suggest he’s improved his FT shooting and started developing a hook shot. I believe there’s much more to come.

  • Oct 15, 20135:12 am
    by Jonathan

    Reply

    Well thought and well written, Brady.

  • Oct 15, 20132:28 pm
    by smackdab

    Reply

    I’ve always loved Smith’s game. I think he’s perfect for our team, a defnesive minded, athletic big man. I dont know about our best player, but I think he was the best player on an Atlanta team that didnt start making the playoffs until he got there. He’ll figure it out, and we won’t trade him, we’re lucky he came here. Not many other players with great numbers was jumping to come to Detroit. I think about halfway thru the season, all this Smith bashing stops.  

    • Oct 16, 20131:33 am
      by ryan

      Reply

      Josh Smith is better than Al Horford? I hope you’re high because if you’re not high you must be… SMDH.

      • Oct 16, 20131:19 pm
        by Brady Fredericksen

        Reply

        Smith had his best season ever and carried the Hawks to the playoffs when Horford played just 11 games in 2011-12. There’s a debate between the two.

      • Oct 17, 201311:54 am
        by Einstein

        Reply

        How is Al Horford better than Smith when Smith is a better scorer, defender, shot-blocker, 3pt shooter, passer, & thief (steals). Horford is a better rebounder so….therefore he is better? Do you watch basketball?

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