Detroit Pistons: Can Stan Van Gundy Fix Josh Smith?

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Josh Smith was terrible last season, but that makes it easy to forget just how talented a player he is. Behind all the clanging rims, ill-advised 3s and poor decisions, Smith is an elite stat sheet stuffer. We’ve all heard about how historically bad Smith’s 3-point shooting is, but overall the stats are pretty kind to the Atlanta native.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of just how much the 28-year-old can contribute across the floor comes from looking at how he ranks historically. Having finished his 10th NBA season, Smith has accumulated a total of 11,635 points, 5,927 rebounds, 2,422 assists, 1,550 blocks and 967 steals. Sure, they seem like solid numbers, but let’s provide a little context for them.

According to Basketball-Reference, Smith is one of only six players in the history of the NBA to reach such a high level of proficiency across these five primary stats categories. In this club, Smith is joined by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Garnett, Vlade Divac, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson. Those five guys have a combined 57 All-Star appearances, meaning it’s not bad company for Smith, never an All-Star, to keep.

Oh, and by the way, Smith leads that group in 3-point percentage, too.

In all seriousness though, question marks remain over Smith’s value, and indeed his NBA future. With each year it seems less and less likely that Smith will ever develop the type of discipline necessary to allow him to truly lead a team as a reliable veteran option. If you had to back anyone to influence Smith to change his ways, though, the new Detroit Pistons coach/president of basketball operations, Stan Van Gundy, would likely be high on your list.

Van Gundy might decide that he doesn’t want the responsibility of trying to remold one of the NBA’s most infamous rogues, but if he is up for the challenge, there’s reasons why it could work.

Let’s take a look at four reasons why Josh Smith can mesh in a Stan Van Gundy team.

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