The Pistons need one frontcourt player who’s at least semi-willing to shoot from the perimeter. Otherwise, it will be too easy for defenses to pack the paint.
And in this unconventional lineup, Smith is the best option.
So, let’s look closer at his perimeter shooting.
On shots from 18 feet and beyond last season, Smith scored .79 points per shot, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. In that sample, he shot 33.8 percent on 2-pointers and 30.3 percent on 3-pointers, a negligible difference in make rate.
However, the difference in points per shot isn’t so subtle:
» 2-pointers: .68 points per shot
» 3-pointers: .91 points per shot
That’s a huge difference.
If Smith had shifted all his longs 2s into 3s and maintained the same 3-point percentage (30.3), the Hawks would have scored an extra 53.6 points. Plug that into Pythagorean wins, and that translates to 1.9 extra wins.
Nearly two extra wins just by taking a few steps back before each long 2.
Obviously, it won’t be possible for Smith to always be in position to shoot a 3-pointer rather than a long 2. But I also think if he’s focused on eliminating long 2s and taking 3s instead, he could raise his 3-point percentage from 30.3 closer to his long-2 conversion rate of 33.8.
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