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Why Josh Smith should shoot more 3-pointers part 2: When Josh Smith should shoot fewer 3-pointers

I apparently wasn’t clear enough when I wrote before the season why Josh Smith should take more 3-pointers, but let’s set the record straight now. Me at the Detroit Free Press:

My logic previously was two-fold:

1. It would be difficult for the Pistons to space the floor with Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in the lineup. One way to create space would be for one of those bigs to drift to the perimeter, and Smith was best suited for that role.

2. If shooting from perimeter, Smith was much better off taking three-pointers rather than long 2s. He makes both types of shots at similar clips, but considering threes are worth 50% more points per make, they’re much preferred.

To his credit, Smith has aced that second point. After just 41% of his perimeter shots were three-pointers last season, 72% are this season. That’s a fantastic improvement.

But shooting more from the perimeter because it’s necessary to coexist with Monroe and Drummond has proved trickier.

With a conventional lineup featuring Smith at power forward, he should rarely shoot from the perimeter. He’s not very good at it but is a strong finisher near the basket. Typically, getting looks in the paint should be his focus.

My three-point plan for Smith came purely from necessity to facilitate Joe Dumars’ mad-scientist frontcourt.

But Smith is not taking his three-pointers because he’s playing with Monroe and Drummond.

Despite playing just 43% of his minutes without the Monroe-Drummond combo, Smith has taken 53% of his three-pointers during those stretches, according to nbawowy.

No, Josh, no.

29 Comments

  • Nov 22, 20131:29 pm
    by Otis

    Reply

    100% of the time, teams would prefer Josh taking outside shots… because that’s the ONLY way he’s not going to consistently hurt them. Even if he hits ten open threes in a row, he’s probably going to be pretty wide open for the eleventh. The answer to this is not encouraging him to take these shots, regardless of who is on the floor. I’m all about taking wide open shots… when there’s a defensive breakdown, not when the team is baiting you into it.
     
    I’m glad you acknowledge that this is a bonkers experiment, but no sense pretending that strategy is going to make it work. You need roster balance and floor balance, and it’s not happening with this team.

    • Nov 22, 20134:35 pm
      by Tim Thielke

      Reply

      Whether teams leave Smith wide open or put a man on him out on the perimeter has actually been pretty 50/50 this season.

  • Nov 22, 20131:53 pm
    by Keith

    Reply

    Otis, I know you are a big proponent of moving Monroe, but I tend to disagree. I think moving Smith makes the most sense. Smith has value he’s accrued for years on playoff teams. Even if he’s having a down season so far, teams know exactly what he can bring to the table and value both his versatility and defense. Monroe is cheaper this year, but probably more expensive long term, and deep down teams are never going to be totally sure he’s not just an above average player putting up big numbers on a bad team.

    I see two trades that would make a lot of sense though:
    Smith for Afflalo and Harris from Orlando.
    Monroe for Leonard and Diaw from San Antonio.

    Neither trade returns an actual star, but it brings back players we need who fit and could grow into near all star production.

    • Nov 22, 20132:43 pm
      by Otis

      Reply

      Keith, I respect you as a man, and I like your profile picture, but you’re objectively wrong on Smith. Smith was a free agent last summer, and we made him the biggest offer. That’s why his jersey says PISTONS on it. If anyone wanted him more than we did, they would have offered him one more dollar, and he’d be there. He hit the open market, and we set the price. So if NOBODY wanted to add him to their roster at $13.5 million a year, WHY THE F would they suddenly want to take on that big contract AND give us assets in return for him? They wouldn’t. Period. End of sentence. End of story.
       
      Furthermore, Monroe is going to cost more and has proven so far to be a pathetic failure of a power forward. So you’re still left with the glaring possibility that Monroe and Drummond are two centers who can’t spread the floor and can’t play together, let alone thrive together. But by that time, you will have already committed to keeping Moose on an even bigger contract than Smith’s. You’re basically making a blind determination on whether he can play power forward, whether he’ll ever develop a respectable jumper, and whether he and Dre can not only coexist but dominate. I don’t see how you can project that they will ever dominate when you can’t even say for certain that they can certainly coexist. It’s not the same problem with Smith, who is a proven power forward. This isn’t that hard of a decision. I wish we’d seen more of Moose-Dre last season, but we didn’t. Blame Joe.

      • Nov 22, 20133:28 pm
        by jamesjones_det

        Reply

        Offensively I think Monroe could play power forward, his jumper has gotten much better and his foot work is great.  Defensively however other than the first two game this year he’s looked horrific.
         
        I’m not a Smith fan but I’ve warmed to the idea of moving Monroe.  My biggest fear however is even moving Monroe and put JS at the 4 won’t stop JS from sitting out on that 3pt line and if all you have is Dre down low to post up we are in big big trouble.
         
        No matter what if this team keeps playing like it has been we may find out which guy(s) Joe is willing to part with sooner rather than later.

        • Nov 22, 20135:43 pm
          by Otis

          Reply

          Monroe’s jumper has not gotten much better. It was legitimately effective (as in, he shot it with confidence and hit a good percentage) once this season. One game out of eleven. Now, if he was still playing center and primarily focused on other aspects of his game, this would not be TOO big a deal. But this is every bit as important as his ability to defend the PF position, and we were told this was a focus, and the results have been nightmarish.
           
          Trading Monroe won’t necessarily keep Smith from his bad habits, but it will certainly open up room for him to operate in the post, and in general the job description for a PF necessitates that he spend more time doing the things we want to see him doing. The job description for a SF encourages all of his worst habits.
           
          And personally, on your last point, I don’t think we’re going to find anything out sooner rather than later. I think that no matter HOW bad this team looks, the most likely scenario is that we either do nothing or make meaningless additions at the deadline. I would actually be shocked if we trade Moose, because it just makes way too much sense. Almost regardless of how the season plays out, if we end this season with Moose and Stuckey on the roster, we’re probably going to face some pretty difficult and unenviable decisions on them both… or lose them for nothing. I really wish Joe’s #1 priority wasn’t keeping his job.

      • Nov 22, 20133:53 pm
        by Keith

        Reply

        Otis, I’m generally of the same opinion as you on most of the things Pistons-related. I’ve wanted Joe D gone for years, I also expected Cheeks to be a failure, and I thought the same as you that this team was put together like a house made out of straw. However, I disagree on your assessment of Smith.

        Smith has been an elite defender throughout his career, and this makes up the bulk of his value. The fact that he is also a great passer has helped to mitigate his painfully idiotic shooting tendencies. Rumors swirled considerably last year about contending looking to trade for Smith (admittedly because as a one year rental they wouldn’t be committing long term money), and that it was Atlanta ultimately who decided to try to win with him instead of making a trade. There is interest, but I agree it is lessened by the length and size of his contract.

        Smith isn’t going to fetch a star by any means, but NO contract in the NBA is untradeable. Smith is legitimately worth his contract to a team needing defense but filled with shooters. Right off the bat Houston is a prime candidate, and has pursued Smith in the past. Orlando, as my trade above was indicating, has NOTHING at PF, and an unnecessary roadblock in front of their #2 overall pick. They are also pretty sure to still land a top pick and still have significant cap space taking Smith on.

        I too am not particularly sold on a Monroe-Drummond frontcourt. But the results are pretty even. Nobody defends Smith taking jumpers either, and the the Smith-Drummond pairing is just as jekyll and hyde as Monroe-Drummond. I don’t think EITHER pairing is a smart long-term investment. And part of that is on Drummond being completely unable to handle the ball without being fouled and bricking his shots. I don’t see a solution on the horizon, but if either can be traded for players that actually complement the others, I can see improvement. I would rather trade the player currently on a contract we shouldn’t have afforded than the player who we have other options on before he gets his payday.

        • Nov 22, 20134:21 pm
          by jamesjones_det

          Reply

          That’s why I thought Aldridge would have been a great fit for Dre last year if we could have snagged him (there was some chatter but who knows if it was real).  He’s a decent defender, can step out and hit a 15 to 20 ft jumper with a fair amount of consistency and doesn’t shoot a ton of 3s letting him help Dre on the offensive boards while giving some spacing when needed.  Now I don’t think there is a chance we could get him with the way they are playing in Portland so far this year but I think a similar skill set could work with Dre.
           
          To be fair if you could just get JS to settle down and play within himself he could be that guy but that’s wishful thinking in my opinion.

          • Nov 22, 20135:45 pm
            by Otis

            Greg Monroe isn’t fit to smell Lamarcus Aldridge’s farts. I’m with you on that.

        • Nov 22, 20135:51 pm
          by Otis

          Reply

          Keith, sometimes my points get lost because I get carried away, but it’s this simple: We set his price. Nobody wanted to pay him more than us. So how can you possibly expect someone to pick up the contract AND give us much of anything? I’m not saying the contract can’t be unloaded, I’m saying that the NET gain for the team will be immeasurably higher if we have Drummond, Smith (at $13.5M) and whatever significant assets we can get for Moose than if we have Drummond, Monroe (at $15+M) and whatever meager spare parts we can get for Smith. I mean, it’s not even close.
           
          Also, I’m not sure what kind of “other options” we have with Monroe besides overpaying him or letting him skate. Once the summer rolls around, it’s either-or. If you think you’re going to land impact talent in a sign-and-trade you’re in for a sad surprise. There’s no guarantee Monroe even gets signed by a team who needs to trade for him. There’s cap space everywhere, and he’ll be a prime candidate for a max offer sheet from a building team like the Suns.

      • Nov 22, 20133:58 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        @Otis  
        The great majority of teams could not have signed Smith when he was a free agent to a dollar more than the Pistons last summer because they were not far enough under the cap.   At the time of Smith’s signing I’d guess there were less than five teams that could have done it and that doesn’t in any meaningful way set the market for how much Smith is worth or his trade value.  It is also worth noting that of the very few teams that had cap room: at least a couple of them were looking to tank this season rather than improve.   Remember, Smith was signed after Howard and Iggy.  If those teams don’t get them, they probably sign Smith but they also were teams that talked to Smith and lost the ability to sign him by signing Howard and Iggy which doesn’t mean even mean in either case that they still wouldn’t want him.
        Also, your point in general is just wildly off and shrill.  Think of it like this: doesn’t everyone say that players almost always take the most money?  If so we can basically agree that every free agent tends to accept the highest offer they receive.   Why not apply your logic then to every free agent who ever signed a contract and ask how any of them ever get traded afterwards when the team that signed them was obviously the only team willing to give them as much money as they received?

      • Nov 22, 20134:57 pm
        by Tim Thielke

        Reply

        Otis, you sound like an economist with no sense of context.

        1) Wed on’t know if Detroit’s offer to Smith was the biggest one out there. It’s a safe bet that it was, but i’s always possible that he turned down something slightly larger because he liked Dumars’ vision for the team.

        2) Smith is paid like a star, so even if another team thought he was worth less than he is paid, they could still think he is star-caliber (maybe worth $12M annually) so then he may be able to fetch another slightly overpaid star in return.

        3) As Max pointed out, most teams had no opportunity to sign Smith. So even if they were willing to give him $16M/yr, they just couldn’t.

        4) According to your logic, the only players who would ever be tradeable are guys on max deals, rookie contracts, have far surpassed expectations, or have given some team a major discount. Everyone else has taken the price the market set. But somehow, they still seem to have trade value.

        • Nov 22, 20136:10 pm
          by Otis

          Reply

          Let’s start with the obvious: I’m all context all the time. Don’t get that twisted.
           
          1) Who knows for sure? But mine is a very VERY good guess. Dysfunctional, rudderless franchise that’s been going absolutely nowhere for years and isn’t a great fit. Revolving coaching door. Bleak outlook. Doesn’t look very much like a top choice for a free agent to go. 90-some % of the time free agents just take the most money. And if they don’t, it’s because they want to go to a good/winning environment. Detroit had literally nothing to offer but money. So it’s a very safe guess we wanted him the most and made the biggest offer. Not sure how you could ever think that’s anything less than highly likely. Also worth noting that they talked to him at 12:01 when free agency opened and agreed to terms with him six days later. If he was so eager to come here, he wouldn’t have sat on the offer for a week. Also highly likely that he was at least shopping for competitive offers like Iguodala did. I enjoy a good debate, but this isn’t worth debating.
           
          2) Sigh. I mean… I just… so you’re saying someone who thinks he’s overpaid by just a million and a half wants to trade him for another overpaid star-but-not-All-Star type player? It’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard, but you’re still left with the unenviable position of having to just guess if Moose can succeed at PF, and paying him (so you’ll have roughly half your cap money tied up in two guys who’ll probably never be All-Stars, and that’s your foundation). Monroe can get you cheap, long-term wing production in trade. It seems like a very easy call.
           
          3) Who knows? Guess we’ll find out. I just don’t buy it. You think the Hawks wouldn’t have tried to work out a sign-and-trade if that was the case?? I mean, they lost one of their best players for literally nothing. That doesn’t happen very often, and I just don’t see it. It’s like argument for the sake of argument.
           
          4) No sense making any broad, sweeping generalities about what trades I think are possible or impossible. I’m talking about two specific guys, I’m talking about how they specifically fit on our team, and I’m talking about what you can probably get for one or the other. I think you could trade Singler or Jerebko, for example. I just don’t think you’re going to change the fortunes of the franchise with that kind of trade. Also worth noting that I would rather be dead than pay Moose max money to be our disappointing power forward for the foreseeable future, regardless of who is playing on the perimeter. And I’d rather be resurrected and killed again than pay both him and Smith a combined $30 million a year to play out of position and not complement each other. We’re in a rare situation with Moose where we can cash out now, and I wanna do it. Why argue?

          • Nov 22, 20137:02 pm
            by Max

            @Otis
            1. No argument from me but who cares whether Smith got the best offer from Detroit because it doesn’t mean other teams wouldn’t have paid him just as much or more if only they had the opportunity?
            2. I have no problem with your opinion that it would be better to trade Monroe and while it’s likely that he would bring back a better return I think your opinion is strained when you act like it’s some kind of absolute. Take a team like the Kings.   They may have the same opinion of Monroe at power forward that you do but they may like the idea of obtaining Smith since their power forward situation stinks.   Trades are about individual teams needs and perceptions and there isn’t are no uniform opinions on players around the league.  
            3. Who knows whether the Hawks tried to perform a sign and trade?  All we know is that they didn’t.  You are the one who keeps saying the Pistons must trade Monroe before the trade deadline because they will have so much less leverage if trying to trade him during the off season and he’s restricted–which means the Hawks would have had even less leverage and not much time to pull the trade off.   Also, I wouldn’t say the Hawks lost him for nothing.   They gained cap space and roster flexibility and used it quite well.
            4. No problem with any of this but they are just your opinions and refer to my point regarding team’s need and the Kings.  

    • Nov 22, 20133:38 pm
      by Sean

      Reply

      Josh Smith for Arron Afflalo? I know he’s having an amazing year but he’s shooting 30 points above his career FG% and 150 points above his career 3PT%. He’s a very good player but he’s a second or third option on a good team and I doubt he’s part of their future anyway since they just drafted Oladipo. No need to give up Smith or Monroe for him.
      Orlando’s gonna have a ton of cap room next year and a chance at a top 3 pick so taking on Josh Smith does nothing for them; their goal should not be to get better this year. They’d probably let him go for Stuckey’s expiring and a future pick or something similar. Wishful thinking but I really don’t see them trading Afflalo for equal value because a) there aren’t many teams who need a SG with assets to deal and b) they’re rebuilding so cap room/draft picks are more valuable than players to help make them mediocre.
      On a rosterbation side note if the Pistons somehow pulled off that deal I would entertain trading Monroe + Jennings (more wishful thinking) for Rondo + Gerald Wallace’s terrible contract. Rondo, KCP, Afflalo, Smith, & Drummond would look a hell of a lot better than the mishmash garbage they have now.

      • Nov 22, 20133:47 pm
        by Brady Fredericksen

        Reply

        Arron Afflalo is a guy I like, too. But not in a blockbuster — he’s way over-performing currently. If Orlando would take Villanueva’s expiring deal down the road and something else? Maybe.

         

        Any trade mentioned should include the Expiring Contract of Stuckey/CV because those are the Pistons best non-starter trade chips.

        • Nov 22, 20133:57 pm
          by Keith

          Reply

          Afflalo and Harris aren’t actually equal to Smith. He’s easily the best player in the deal. But Orlando would be taking on money in the trade. Further, Smith’s value in a vacuum shouldn’t be the deciding factor of this kind of trade. Smith’s contextual value on the Pistons is very low. He doesn’t provide what we need, and he exacerbates our weaknesses. Afflalo’s value, meanwhile, is somewhat low in Orlando where he’s blocking Oladipo and even in a vacuum he’s a quality role player rather than go-to guy. But that’s why it works. Smith is both a better fit and a better player for Orlando, and so they pay more in salaries. Afflalo is a better fit and Harris is an intriguing SF for the future.

        • Nov 22, 20136:14 pm
          by Otis

          Reply

          No offense, guy, but why/how did your brain tell your fingers to type something about Orlando trading Afflalo for Charlie V? Or did your fingers do that all on their own? At LEAST start with Stuckey-for-Afflalo. If they took CV (and whatever else) for Afflalo, we should throw in an AIDS-infected needle so their GM could finish himself off.

  • Nov 22, 20133:57 pm
    by Windy

    Reply

    Preach Otis Preach! Moose and Dre playing PF AND C are not more compatible than Smith and Dre playing PF AND C Period…Monroe is a Center and a good one but were in the predicament of having Dre already there who is and always will be a better C than Moose…that’s not a knock on Moose but simply understanding the upside of having a beast like Dre who is younger, more athletic and a better defender…so what do you do? MOVE MONROE and actually get something in return because if you don’t then your either A) paying him max money to play PF along side Dre and Smith like we have and looks awful or B) let him walk to another team for Max money and get NOTHING in return…Monroe will be a good Center in this league just not on this team…go get a SF or SG that can defend but more importantly actually shoot! I like Monroe but there is NWIH I’m paying max cash or close to it for him to play out of position, poor defence and his endless whining “AND 1″…he is slow now, imagine how great a PF he will be in 4 years…come on now guys…don’t get Piston googles on where yo would rather hoard talent that doesn’t fit because you just want to keep him because you like him…look at the bigger picture..we have 3 months to get something for Monroe or were locking him up(leaving us 5mil to upgrade our team in the offseason)…or letting him walk…SELL HIGH!!! 

    • Nov 22, 20136:18 pm
      by Otis

      Reply

      You’re a man/woman after my own heart. I can honestly say I think it would be safer and maybe a better idea to let Monroe walk for literally nothing whatsoever than give him any sort of max extension. Ever. If he was our only center, I would be willing to match an offer sheet through gritted teeth, but with Dre in tow it makes no sense whatsoever. It’s not often that you have this easy of a decision to trade a guy at the deadline.

      • Nov 22, 20137:09 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        Totally disagree.   Even if the team determines that Monroe is not going to being part of the future long term he can’t be allowed to walk.   I just have no understanding of your position since you seem to assume that Monroe will be paid the max wherever he goes and yet think he can’t be traded on what is obviously a reasonable contract since everyone agrees it’s the contract he will get.   Do you think the Pacers would have any trouble trading Hibbert if they desired right now?   I’ll go even further and say that depending on the destination it could be easier to trade him with a max deal since one of the impediments right now is that his trade value far exceeds the value of his current contract.  

        • Nov 22, 20139:41 pm
          by Max

          Reply

          Actually, I should revise my statement.  If the Pistons can allow Monroe to walk in concert with signing a player who makes them better in the exchange than it’s fine.  I just can’t really see that happening.   

  • Nov 22, 20137:08 pm
    by David c

    Reply

    Trade Monroe for Kawhai Leonard straight up and we have a front court set for the next 5 years.
     
    Spurs have a passing low post scorer to replace Duncan 

    • Nov 22, 20137:13 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Why stop there?   Why not just get Durant?  Sorry but I just think it’s incredibly unlikely that the Spurs trade Leonard but you’re right in the sense that the offer is worth making.  

  • Nov 22, 20139:47 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    Jennings just picked Teague’s pocket and then Tayshaun Princed Jenning’s attempt to lay the ball up when he thought he was safe.  Play of the year against the Pistons so far.   

    • Nov 22, 20139:49 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Also the decisive play of the game as the Pistons would have been up if Jennings had made the layup and the Hawks went on a 10-2 run so far in the final 2 minutes.  

  • Nov 23, 20131:19 pm
    by T Casey

    Reply

    A lot of negativity surrounding Monroe who, so far, has been our smartest and most efficient scorer this year. Trading him in favor o keeping Smith, Jennings, and Drummond (as much as I like his game) would leave the team with an offense full of bad shot selections and very little skill, iq. I’d go so far as to say that Monroe may be the glue keeping our offense together most nights. Who else is consistently shooting well enough to offset Jennings and Smith’s constant 5/16 shooting perfomances.

  • Jan 8, 201410:46 am
    by ????????? ??

    Reply

    I wanted to thank you for this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit
    of it. I’ve got you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post…

  • Jan 21, 201412:30 pm
    by King

    Reply

    Josh Smith is shooting a respectable 16% this month on threes. At this rate perhaps we should have Drummond shoot them instead. Dan is brilliant. i completely agree In letting him shoot more, but for different reasons. If we let Josh Smith heave more unmakable shots at the rim, we are destined to lose more games to get into the bottom 8 to keep our pick.
    Statistics don’t lie. Josh Smith has a fundamentally flawed, yet smooth form but hasn’t made a jump shot consistently (rather has consistently bricked them) his entire career. I say shoot, my man. The more the merrier. Best draft since Bron, Wade, Melo. Too bad Joe Dumba$$ picked Darko in that one, traded away this years (protected) to get rid of Ben Gordon, and signed an uncoachable player outside of his position. By the way, small forwards should NEVER shoot under 45% much less 41%. Complete liability. Case closed…

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