Josh Smith is about to play the last season of his contract with the Atlanta Hawks. The sides have been said to not be very close to any agreement to keep Smith in Atlanta. So, perhaps it’s safe enough to assume that the upcoming NBA season may see Smith do some auditioning for a contract.
Josh Smith is a physically gifted, small forward/ power forward type of player. He had a very good year, averaging 18.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.8 bpg, and 1.4 spg. Suffice it to say that Smith was a stat-hound last season. The points per game were a career high for Smith, so were his rebounds per game. Smith also took a career high 16.7 shots per game. His 1.4 steals per game was the second-highest average of his career (1.6 spg in the 2009-2010 season)
For all his stat-stuffing ability, Josh Smith also comes with his fair share of vulnerabilities. For one thing, Smith seems like he settles for a jump shot way too often. In fact, he’s even made a few fans wonder why he’s taking so many. For those who believe Smith to still be taking way too many jump shots, there is good news: the numbers show improvement.
The 2011-2012 season saw Smith take on an increased role on the Atlanta offense, as Al Horford was sidelined with an injury for all but 11 games. Because of the injury to Horford, Smith’s raised chunk of the offense was understandable. It also would have been plausible for his number of jump shots to go up, owing to increased usage.
With that being said, the fact of the matter is quite the contrary. Smith had actually taken less jump shots last year than in his 2010-2011 season. Even though he saw an increase from 13.5 field goals per game to almost 17, Smith decreased his jump-shot count from 713 attempts in 2010-2011 to 677 in 2011-2012. A particularly welcomed sight was the decrease in Smith’s three-point shot attempts, going from 178 to 113 in the last two seasons. Also worthy of note was Smith’s increased hook-shot count, going from 114 to 145 in two seasons.
With the decrease in total jump shot attempts and increased use of his improving hook-shot (went from 47% to 49% made in last two seasons), Smith is showing a shift towards more economical shots.
Work yet to be done
It must be noted that Smith still has some work to do as far as his shot selection goes. His numbers also showed a regressive tendency to shoot between 16-22 feet away from the basket.
If three pointers are discounted, that area, which feels about as far as a three-pointer does, is worth only two points, making it a statistical no-man’s land. In the 2010-2011 season, Smith put up 170 two-point shots from that distance. In 2011-2012, he had 317 two-point attempts from the same distance. Smith hit 47% of those shots in 2010-2011 and 40% of the same shots in 2011-2012.
With Smith’s FG% going down from .477 to .458, it would make sense to assume that shots from this particular distance had a hand in this.
The Hawks can look forward to a healthy Al Horford this upcoming season. This will inevitably take some of the offensive emphasis off Smith. But, with Joe Johnson (arguably ATL’s best play-maker) traded to Brooklyn, it remains to be seen if Smith continues to show improvement in his shot selection.
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also a contributor at “Les Snobs”. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men, and blues music. Nearly all stats are credited to Hoopdata or Basketball-Reference.
Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim