A story broke Tuesday linking the Sacramento Kings to a potential trade for Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith.
According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Kings would ship forwards Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams to Detroit in exchange for Smith, with other iterations of the deal replacing Williams with eithr Jason Terry or Carl Landry.
Josh Smith has long been the Charles Ponzi of NBA players—he lures you in with his athletic gifts and his raw talent … and then he shoots 3-pointers four seconds into the shot clock until your head is bleeding from smashing it into the nearest wall so many times.
Detroit general manager Joe Dumars rolled the dice on Smith last summer, signing the former Atlanta Hawk to a four-year, $54 million free-agent deal, with the idea that Smith could be an effective small forward as part of a gargantuan frontcourt trio with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
That, among many other reasons, is why Joe Dumars is now the former general manager in Detroit.
You see, Smith loves his jump shot. Absolutely loves it. It just doesn’t love him back.
Smith shot 41.9 percent last season, the worst mark of his career. His percentage by distance tells the tale:
- Zero to 3 feet: 71.1 percent.
- Three to 10 feet: 34.1 percent.
- Ten to 16 feet: 34.2 percent.
- Sixteen to 24 feet: 36 percent.
- Beyond 24 feet: 26.4 percent.
Smith has always taken too many 3s. The only coach who ever reined him in was Mike Woodson in Atlanta in 2009-10. Smith took only seven 3-balls all season, made none of them, and had a player efficiency rating better than 20 for the first time in his career (21.0).
It’s also the only season during which Smith shot better than 50 percent from the floor.
These are not coincidental events, people.
As it turns out, putting Smith at the 3 achieved roughly the same result as locking an addict inside a pharmacy and instructing them to not touch anything.
Yeah. You know what comes next.
Out on the perimeter, Smith felt empowered, emboldened, to fire at will. In 77 games, Smith attempted 265 3-pointers, a whopping 3.4 per game.
The result was the second-worst 3-point shooting season in NBA history for a player with at least 3.4 attempts per game. The table below doesn’t lie:
Getting Smith in Sacramento would mean he would move back to his natural power forward position. But playing the 4 in his last season in Atlanta, Smith took 2.6 3-pointers a game at a 30.3 percent success rate.
It would be one thing if Smith were as athletically gifted as he is and was an 18- or 19-year-old prospect.
But Josh Smith will be 29 years old on Dec. 5. If the light was going to go on, if he were going to understand how to be the most effective he can be, he would have figured it out by now.
Part of the thinking behind the proposed trade is that having Smith in Sacramento might make it possible for the Kings to lure Smith’s high-school teammate and close friend, Rajon Rondo, to California’s capital.
The only thing I can see that doing for the Kings is giving Smith and Rudy Gay one less guy they would have to compete for bad shots with.