Smith is only 23 years old, and while he hasn't figured things out as quickly as Hawks fans might have hoped, it's easy to forget the considerable progress he's made. Atlanta's addition of more perimeter players may help him focus on sticking to his knitting in the paint, and it would help him further if the Hawks' play calls gave him something to do besides stand 20 feet from the rim waiting for a kickout.Ric Bucher writes about the other Smith, Joe:
The Hawks' talent, envied around the league, is undercut by immaturity and sometimes an appalling lack of discipline. Hence the contractual vote of no confidence for Woodson; the overwhelming sense is that the Hawks listen to Woodson only when it suits them.Emphasis mine and not because I have a problem with Joe Smith or any other player wanting to play but rather because I already worry that Mike Woodson won't recognize that, at this point in Joe Smith's career, he deserves to be the fourth** big man in the rotation and should never get a minute that could reasonably go to Josh Smith, Al Horford, or Zaza Pachulia. Now the specter appears of a disgruntled Joe Smith rather than a positive veteran influence Joe Smith if Woodson relegates him to an appropriate role in the rotation.
Does ol' Joe have enough game left for Josh Smith to heed any cautionary tale he might offer? Will the older Smith even offer it? He spurned Cleveland to sign with Atlanta because the Cavs shelved him come playoff time. At this point in his career, he doesn't want to sit on the bench, even if it affords a better chance of getting a ring. He'd rather make an impact with a playoff team trying to reach that championship level. There's no bigger contribution he could make than convincing the young Hawks that as early in their careers as it might seem, the clock moves fast, and sometimes early opportunities to make a mark are the only ones a player gets.
*Mike Bibby is pegged as Trending down but not disastrously so.
**At best, he says, thinking optimistically about Othello Hunter and Courtney Sims.