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Josh Smith is NBA’s most-destructive shooter

Josh Smith is the NBA’s most-harmful shooter.

Nine years ago, John Hollinger developed a formula to show which players hurt their teams most by shooting on a per-minute basis. He called it “Brick Index,” and here’s the formula:

Brick Index = (([NBA average TS%] – TS%) x (FGA + (FTA x 0.44))) / (Min/40)

Tom Haberstroh revisited that formula, writing about Smith’s struggles in greater detail, and here’s what it reveals for this season:

Smith’s Brick Index not only leads the NBA by a wide margin, it’s historically bad. Per Haberstroh, it’s the fourth-worst in the last 15 years. It ranks ahead of a Michael Jordan season, though, so that’s cool, I guess.

Brandon Jennings is No. 7 on the 2014 list, making the Pistons the only team with two players with such high Brick Indexes.

Smith and Jennings are obviously shooting terribly, and that’s the No. 1 reason they’re on this list. But Maurice Cheeks’ insistence on making those two – rather than, say, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond – the focal point of Detroit’s offense raises their Brick Index. Shooting poorly is one key to a high Brick Index. Shooting a lot is the other.

The fifth member of Detroit’s starting lineup, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, also appears on the above list at No. 21. He’s shot so poorly that even his limited role doesn’t save him. His biggest problem is he almost never gets to the free-throw line, just 1.2 attempts per 36 minutes, and failing to pad his scoring efficiency from the charite stripe. But Caldwell-Pope is one of four rookies in the Brick Index top 25, so his struggles are somewhat excusable.

On a related note, I know some of you certainly noticed Trey Burke ranks No. 8. But his Brick Index ranks behind Rookie of the Year favorite Michael Carter-Williams’. Though their Brick Indexes were better, 2013 Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard and 2012 Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving also had issues with inefficiency. Putting a rookie point guard on a bad team into a huge role is just asking for trouble.

Know what else is asking for trouble? Putting Smith on your team, period.

Just imagine how much worse this would be if Smith weren’t shooting more smartly.


  • Jan 28, 20143:33 pm
    by Vic



      • Jan 28, 20144:54 pm
        by jamesjones_det


        At least this proves I’m not crazy, I’ve been saying no matter which position JS plays his shot selection isn’t going to change much based on watching him in ATL.
        JS wants to be Rasheed but he can’t shoot like him.

  • Jan 28, 20143:33 pm
    by Vic


    On an Insider article today, we get confirmation of what we already know:

    So, is Smith the NBA’s biggest bricklayer?To answer the question, I’ve dusted off a handy tool developed years ago by Per Diem predecessor John Hollinger. It’s called the Brick Index. It tells us how many points a player costs his team with his shooting compared to the league average on a per-40-minute basis. The metric is based on true shooting percentage, which is a shooting percentage that incorporates 3-point shooting and free throws.Smith’s true shooting percentage this season currently stands at 46.1 percent. For perspective, Kevin Durant has shot that poorly in only one game this season and it came back in November.The Brick Index takes true shooting percentage a step further and considers shot frequency, not just efficiency. This makes intuitive sense. The more missed shots you take, the more costly it is to your team. Orlando Magic big man Jason Maxiell has a similar true shooting percentage as Smith, but he is self-aware enough to take half as many shots. Smith is another story.So, how does Smith fare in Brick Index?Not well at all. Smith has cost his team 1.46 points per 40 minutes on his shooting alone. That’s the most damaging rate among 151 qualified players (minimum 1,000 minutes). And it’s not really close.

    • Jan 28, 20143:36 pm
      by Vic


      sO basically we watched Jason Maxiell steal minutes from Drummond… Now we get to watch Josh Smith who is even worse, steal shots from Drummond.
      But now instead of Calderon spacing the floor as one of the best shooters and passers in the league, we get to watch Jennings brick the 4th quarter away every game. 
      Joe Dumars Basketball Fieldhouse.
      I’m not even going to call them the Pistons anymore. This is Joe Dumars Basketball fieldhouse 

      • Jan 28, 20145:01 pm
        by JYD for Life


        this actually made me laugh out loud.  You are right on so many levels…

      • Jan 28, 20146:31 pm
        by Merwin


        The Pissed-Ons.  :(

  • Jan 28, 20143:35 pm
    by Birdman84


    But I thought it didn’t matter that Smith was having the worst three-point shooting season of all time…

  • Jan 28, 20143:53 pm
    by MIKEYDE248


    It’s nice to see Prince that high up and know that at least he’s not killing the Pistons anymore.
    Why doesn’t their coach see this and do something about it?

    • Jan 28, 20145:28 pm
      by JYD for Life


      Really awesome to see TREY BURKE on this list too!  That brought a smile to my face and yes, I’m overlooking the fact that KCP is on this as well.  

      • Jan 29, 20149:25 am
        by MIKEYDE248


        I knew Trey’s shooting percentage has been pretty bad, but the rest of his game has been looking really good.  He has a very high assist to turn over number and is one of those players that make everyone around him better.  The shooting will come along for both him and KCP.

  • Jan 28, 20143:59 pm
    by Keith


    Maybe Joe’s goal all along was to tank for 2014. He looked at Drummond, Monroe, and Stuckey and though, “That team could probably make the playoffs in the East. We’ll have to do something about it.” So he used his cap space the only way he knew how, getting us the worst players for the money, guaranteeing the young guns would never be able to stop us from landing a high pick.

    • Jan 28, 20144:34 pm
      by Vic


      I actually hope that’s true. Tanking is stupid, but it’s not dumber than this basketball were looking at right now from Joe Dumars Fieldhouse

  • Jan 28, 20144:30 pm
    by Edgar


    At least we know Dumars will get his best analytics people all over this issue. Oh wait.

  • Jan 28, 20144:34 pm
    by baines


    Mo Cheeks “Josh Smith is our go to guy!!??”  Unbelievable how Mo Cheeks can believe Josh is our best offensive player!!  I’m trying to be respectful, but, Mo Cheeks is just not qualified for the position he is in and that goes right back to Joe Dumars, President of B-ball Operations!!

  • Jan 28, 20145:02 pm
    by JYD for Life


    Possible Smith Targets – keeping in mind that the market is limited and you won’t get anything valuable in return while most likely have to settle for expiring deals or more bad contracts: 
    Boston - 
    Gerald Wallace and Jeff Green for CV and Smith – This might work although Ainge is savvy and I don’t see him wanting Smith.  On the flip side, two more years at 10 million for Gerald Wallace is terrible and he might see more value in Smith at 14M per year for three years.  I like this because Green is an ideal fit at SF.  Picks his spots, can hit 3s and FTs.  Wallace actually works hard and will set a good example for the young guys.  Overpaid grossly, but would be a solidifying presence off of the bench for 28 minutes a game backing up Monroe and Green.  
    Brooklyn -
    Straight up for Brook Lopez – unlikely…why would Brooklyn do this?  Adding Smith would mess with their chemistry and they’ve gone 10-2 recently.  
    Not sure where this rumor came from. 
    Charlotte - 
    For Ben Gordon and something (1st round pick back, Biyombo, Haywood) or nothing…
    I can’t see Joe admitting he screwed up and I really can’t see him taking Gordon back. Also, with Cody Zeller the future alongside Jefferson, taking on 3 more years of Smith makes no sense for them. 
    Knicks – Everyone’s favorite dumping ground. 
    For Stoudemire – we would have to include CV or Stuckey to make the #s work.  One more year of a ridiculous contract for Stoudemire would limit what we can bring in next year.  
    For Bargnani straight up – one more year left on his deal.  This blows up in our faces if Monroe or Drummond gets hurt because sadly enough, Smith is better than Bargnani. 
    Dallas - 
    Marion and Ellington – Not sure Dallas does this because they are actually in the playoffs right now.  Marion is an expiring contract and Ellington is on a small deal and is a solid backup SG. Smith works with Dirk being able to spend time on the perimeter.  
    Denver - 
    Javale McGee and Andre Miller – I actually like this, in spite of McGee’s terrible deal.  Two more years at 10 mil per for him.  1 more at 5 mil per for Miller.  A true PG and a backup big/Monroe insurance though.  
    Houston - 
    Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin – we could include Stuckey.  The key here is that those two will cost 30 million next season.  Horrible value, but they expire after next.  Essentially shaving one year off of the Smith deal.  
    Sacramento - 
    The trade I actually like the most – Jason Thompson and Marcus Thornton – Thornton has one more year at 8.5M and Thompson has 3 years at less than 6M per.  Great backup big and adds another shooter off of the bench. 

    • Jan 28, 20145:35 pm
      by Tim Thielke


      no, no, no, no, no. Smith is a poor fit so the solution is to bring in a similarly overpaid Green and a much more overpaid and much more poorly fitting Wallace? Unless the Pistons are also getting a pick, this is an awful trade.

      Agreed, why would Brooklyn do this? Not that I’d worry about the chemistry if I were them, but they can get more for Lopez if they decide to go that way.

      Gordon and MKG would be an interesting trade. I think both sides consider that.

      There is no sensible trade there.

      Smith would be a fantastic fit there, but they don’t have anything to offer in return. This would be akin to trading Smith for Gordon straight up.

      Try Smith for Gallo. If the Nuggets actually want to make a playoff push, this would be a way to do so and would be a great trade for Detroit.

      There is probably no team that will offer less value for Asik than the Pistons. Not a chance anything could be worked out.

      This is worse than a straight up salary dump for Gordon, because you have to pay Thornton a lot more than he is worth for a couple more seasons. Pass.

      • Jan 28, 20145:42 pm
        by JYD for Life


        Good call on Gallo…I just don’t think they give him up for Smith if we don’t take anything back that they don’t want (McGee or Miller).  I would love a Gallo/Miller for Smith deal.  
        Disagree with you about Jeff Green being overpaid.  That being said, I agree that the deal does not make much sense without getting a pick…which Boston does have an abundance of…
        Just don’t see the Charlotte deal happening.  
        Thornton has one more year at 8M left on his deal.  Thompson is good value at 6M per.  This isn’t terrible.  
        It’s sad, but there isn’t much out there. 

    • Jan 28, 20145:36 pm
      by JYD for Life


      forgot New Orleans – Straight up for Eric Gordon – another terrible contract, but he would help either off the bench or starting (with Jennings would be one of the worst backcourt duos ever).  Paying Gordon for one year less than Smith.  
      Also – my comment about Houston was that the total value of the dollars exchanged basically shaves a year off of Smith’s deal.  We would have that cap space two years prior to his deal expiring should we keep him.  

  • Jan 28, 20147:50 pm
    by Hook Shot


    Josh Smith is a bricklayer partially because he is playing out of position. His shooting percentage would go up because he would be closer to the basket. 
    I think we keep Monroe. If we can deal Smith for a bag of wrenches I am all for it. Jennings would not be far behind in a perfect world.. I would rather live with Calderon than Jennings any day. 

    • Jan 28, 20148:02 pm
      by oats


      Look at this link Vic posted at the top of the page. It’s a breakdown of where Smith is shooting from at PF and SF this year. It’s pretty much identical. Given that, I don’t know if we can blame his bricklaying tendencies on him playing out of position.

  • Jan 28, 20149:34 pm
    by jomama


    anyone else remember the article where dumars said “I didn’t realize how good of a defender smith was until after I started watching video”. dumars was enamored with smith’s offense from the beginning. boy, can he pick ‘em.

  • Jan 28, 201410:13 pm
    by James


    With more and more articles like these and games played, there is very little chance that any team will take Smith, even in a severely unbalanced trade. Atlanta used to be his crutch, but thats over with after what he has shown here. The only chance we have at a decent trade is Monroe, and being one of the main cogs on this team, his stock is going to inevitably drop as well. I believe this team will look the exact same at the end of the season.

    • Jan 28, 201411:07 pm
      by frankie d


      Smith needs a strong, secure coach who can make him toe the line.  Put him on a team with popovich or rick carlisle or doc rivers, for instance, and i think smith would adjust accordingly.
      Let him start chucking 20 footers for pop or carlisle and see how long it took for them to put his a@@ on the bench.  Problem is i cannot see any of those teams wanting smith and all of the issues/baggage he would tote along with him.
      I think any of those teams would love to have him as a jack of all trades 6th man – his true calling – but who wants to take the risk of bringing a guy like him on board?  Unless of course you are a desperate joe dumars.

  • Jan 29, 20141:30 pm
    by Hook Shot


    Good pick up Oats(see my post in next article). 

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