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Josh Smith named among the NBA’s worst shooters

Kirk Goldsberry of  Grantland named the worst shooters so far this season, and, sigh, Josh Smith made the cut:

Sometimes I feel like every column I write about bad shooting is a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert and the part where I rant about Josh Smith is “Free Bird.” Everyone knows it’s coming, but I have to do it anyway.

Last summer, I was very excited when Smith entered free agency; I felt that in the proper offense, under the right coach, and alongside the right teammates, something might click and his All-Star potential could finally be unlocked. I have always claimed that if Smith would only focus on offensive rebounding, attacking the basket, and operating on the blocks, he’d be a really great player.

I still feel that way, but Detroit is just not the place, at least right now. It’s an unstable situation, the offensive tactics are unclear at best, and with young bigs like Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond clogging up the paint there’s no room in the Pistons frontcourt. As a result, Smith plays the 3 too much, and in turn he’s taking even more jumpers than he did in Atlanta.

This is like sending Cookie Monster to a rehab run by the Keebler Elves.

What if Smith had landed in a place like Dallas? Something tells me his chart would look different this year. But he’s in Detroit, and I may as well have copied and pasted this chart from his Atlanta days because it feels like a rerun, and this bird has not changed.

You can click through to Grantland to see Goldsberry’s shot chart for Smith. Spoiler alert: It contains a section called “PLEASE STOP THIS.”

Maybe Maurice Cheeks playing Smith less often at small forward will help Smith, but there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.

For one, Smith says he doesn’t look where he is on the court when he shoots.  And it shows. Smith should get a little more license to shoot 3-pointers as a small forward, because that helps create space for Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond inside. But Smith, as of last check, has taken a disproportionately high percentage of his 3-pointers as a power forward.

Smith brings a lot of positives to the Pistons, but shooting most definitely not one of them. Goldsberry’s critique is fair – and probably very similar to what will appear in his next edition of the NBA’s worst shooters.


  • Jan 16, 20141:33 pm
    by MIKEYDE248


    On the contrary, I don’t think playing Smith at any position will limit his bad shots.  He is one of those guys that is going to take a shot if the other team is going to give it to him whenever he sees fit.
    I don’t really see him taking threes as spreading the floor any either.  Whenever he has the ball out there, the teams still clog up the paint and temp him to launch up one of his lower percentage shots, and he usually does.
    The only way he will change his ways is if it is forced on him by either the other players or the coach.  I would lump Jennings in this same category.

    • Jan 16, 20142:57 pm
      by frankie d


      Great point.  Teams WANT smith to take those long jumpers, which is why he is always open and always available when jennings has to dump the ball after dribbling away most of the shot  clock.  That is part of their defensive game plan: leave smith open, tempt him with an open shot and play the strong odds that he will miss it.
      The sad part is that he is too stupid to understand what is happening.
      This shyte would be hilarious if i wasnt rooting for the team to win.  It sounds like a running joke…a joke that has been going on for smith’s entire career.

  • Jan 16, 20141:44 pm
    by Huddy


    I love how Smith says (in the Free Press Article) “people try to throw statistics in there.”  Yeah like you know, the numbers that tell you how good people are at shooting from different places…those are dumb.

    • Jan 16, 201410:01 pm


      I think he meant if he is on the right or left side of the court…corners or elbows

      • Jan 17, 20149:03 am
        by Huddy


        Why? Nothing in the article discusses which side of the court he is on.  The writer discusses criticisms of shooting outside 8 feet and specifically bad 3pt shooting and Smith says he doesn’t like people throwing statistics in and that he doesn’t look at where he is on the floor he just plays and has confidence in every shot he takes.  It’s a pretty big leap to assume he means something off topic.

  • Jan 16, 20142:20 pm


    Don’t everyone believe in advanced stats….I think Smith is ready to play at a high level….

  • Jan 16, 20145:16 pm
    by Byron


    I sort of hate how Goldsberry uses ShotScore. It’s interesting to see how players compare to average at different positions on the floor, but it’s not particularly relevant for how well a player’s playing. Seeing their points-per-shot from different areas would tell them where to shoot more and less. If you’re average at the basket and a little above average on long-2s, don’t take more long 2s.

  • Jan 16, 20146:20 pm
    by freeparty


    Smith can play the 3 at a higher level if the Pistons had a 4 that could spread the floor.  Otherwise, make room for him at the 4.  He may want to be a stretch 4 or legit 3 but not going to happen.  Also, when he gets the ball above the paint how many possessions turn into misses and turn overs?  Like 80% maybe 90% if he is only making 30% of his attempts.  Key and in, key and in.

    • Jan 16, 201411:09 pm
      by oats


      Except he’s been worse defensively at the 3 than Kyle Singler. He’s better for the handful of really big SFs like Melo, but most wing players have been torching him. That’s actually been the biggest problem with the 3 big lineup, the fact that the defense is terrible. I don’t see where having a 4 that can spread the floor fixes that problem. I think he’s just not a guy that should be left at the 3 for long against most teams.

  • Jan 17, 20142:13 am
    by gtg2013


    Anyone notice how at the end of the article Brandon Jennings gets a (dis)honorable mention, too? So Joe D’s two big free agent signings this year are among the bottom 10 high-volume shooters in the league, by this metric. Thanks, Joe!

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