I believe that Josh Smith holds the future of this franchise in his (metaphorical) hands. I also believe there is something abnormal about Smith’s (literal) hands that is the root cause of his obvious weaknesses: jump shooting, dribbling, and favoring awkward finger rolls and flips over dunk attempts. I don’t know whether his hands are abnormal in shape, size, or strength or whether he simply lacks the degree of touch typical to almost all (non-tall stiff) NBA players but Smith’s hands are central to how Smith is different.
Despite the weaknesses this difference manifests, Smith should still possess an advantage over his defender in either the high- or low-post almost every time he touches the ball. (Kevin Garnett, Shawn Marion, and Shane Battier would be expected to negate much, if not all, of Smith’s typical matchup advantage.) Running the offense through Smith would, I presume, result in more turnovers (though his turnover rate has not increased as his assist rate and shot volume have both increased during his career) in the form of bad passes or the irregular bounce borne of wild, rogue dribbles. It would also engage Smith emotionally and mentally in the game more consistently (one hopes) while reducing the opportunity for Smith to attempt jump shots outside of 15’ and increasing his free throw attempts.
Here is where I would attempt to quantify the damage Smith's terrible jump shooting does to the Hawks offense. But NBA.com's Hotspots has no data for any Hawks players right now. Smith did limit himself to 99 three-point attempts last year, making 25, and just failing to match his career average of 26.3% shooting from behind the arc. 82games.com has Smith taking 48% of his field goal attempts as jump shots, for a 30.7 eFG%. As best as I can figure, that makes Smith 130-446 (29.1%) on his two-point jump shots. Even though the Hawks are a good offensive rebounding team (5th in the NBA) that volume of poor shooting can't be mitigated. Especially frustrating is that Smith set a career high in free throw attempts (5.8 per game) despite using almost half his field goal attempts on jump shots he wasn't making and gave him no real chance of drawing a foul.
While I hope that increasing Smith’s responsibilities offensively (and requiring him to play within the team concept defensively) would generate a positive response from Smith it remains but a hope based just on Smith’s typically perceptive post-game quotes and glimpses of Smith as a dominating basketball player during the stretches of games where he seems completely invested in the proceedings. I don’t know the man and, of course, that Mike Woodson can’t communicate successfully with Josh Smith isn’t entirely Woodson’s fault.
The potential of Josh Smith to become a franchise player, a potential that rests with Smith alone amongst members of the current roster, is worth sufficient reward to take the risk that Smith is simply an enigmatic talent that can’t or won’t maximize his talents, refuse to do things on the court that hurt his team’s chances of winning, and take primary responsibility of whether the team tops out at 40 or 50 wins in a season.