Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hoops Addict: McNeill: The Next Step in the Evolution of Josh Smith

First, Ryan McNeill provides the target that fulminating was looking for earlier this week:
As a career 26.9% shooter from beyond the arc, his 29.4% this season won’t catch your attention. However, when you look at the 42.9% he shoot from three-point land in February it’s clear the young forward has been putting some time into this area of his game.
1) McNeill must mean March. Smith was 1-5 from beyond the arc in February.
2) Smith attempted 14 three-pointers in March. The bulk of the evidence is the other 455 three-pointers Smith's attempted in his career.

When not jumping to conclusions, McNeill does a good job of getting Smith to talk about his game:
"If I can help out (Mike) Bibby, Mo (Evans) and Flip (Murray) who have been hitting open shots, it makes it hard for a defense to zero in on Joe (Johnson). It also prevents them from clogging up the paint because we have three-point shooters."
Nothing allows opposing defenses to zero in on Joe Johnson more than Josh Smith hanging around the perimeter. Barring his driving layup in Toronto, I've seen no evidence that Smith's recent hot streak* has resulted in any difference in how teams defend him. Nor should it. He's a career 26.9% three-point shooter and he's not appreciably better at making two-point jumpers.

*He's missed his last three attempts. Is it clear he stopped putting some time into this area of his game sometime in the middle of the game in Milwaukee?

Joe Johnson feeds the delusion and/or provides further evidence that he's a nice guy:
"I think it makes us a deadlier team when he’s a triple-threat. He can post up or he can be one of four guys we can line up on the perimeter who can knock down a three. It makes us really tough to guard."
McNeill's conclusion:
Think about it: Atlanta has a 6′9″ power forward the can run in transition, score in the paint and now draw opposing defenses out past the three-point arc. This clears up room for Al Horford to grab more rebounds, Joe Johnson can slash to the rim more often and there are more mid-range jumpers for everyone on the team.

If Smith can continue to work on this aspect of his game he’ll rack up countless trips to future All-Star games and help Atlanta drive deep into the playoffs each season.

That and he’ll give the rest of the coaches and players around the NBA nightmares at the thought of trying to figure out a game plan to slow him down.
I don't think I'm the one who needs to think about this. My guess is that coaches and players will continue to allow Josh Smith to shoot as many jump shots as he wants and that this decision leads to sound sleep. But, hey, what do I know? I've been wrong before and I'm not a guy deserving of access to the players or coach.


giggins said...

The bulls have somewhat of the same problem with Tyrus Thomas now; a player who should live near the hoop, or be trailing on the break, to maximize his considerable skill set. But this year, he's decided to be a more "complete" player and drift out on the arc and show everyone his J. Not good.

JMar said...

The last three point attempt I watched Josh take last night was completely unguarded, yet bounced off the backboard and missed the rim entirely. Absolutely clueless.

rbubp said...

JMar, that must have been the one where Nique commented that "someone must have opened up the door on that shot."

The thing is that the Hawks do not have a consistent low-post threat that causes open J's off of inside-out rotations. They get more drive and dish or cross-court pass J's.

So, since is truly an outstanding interior passer with pretty exceptional court vision, it would seem the best thing he could do for the team, as well as his own offensive game, would be to develop some real post moves that cause double-teams EVERY time.

CRC said...

couldn't agree more. unfortunately the 1 outta 5 games J Sandpaper shoots well is too many for him to give up hope

Bronnt said...

Remember when Josh Smith started the season off hot and you were keeping an eye on his incredible effect on team defensive efficency? I just peeked at that, and he's now -0.7 in defensive efficiency on the year.

He's such a different player when he's out there giving consistent effort. According the on/off numbers, our best defensive player was Zaza Pachulia (not too surprising).

Bret LaGree said...

Well, yeah, Zaza's not out there with Mike Bibby too much.