Now that Josh Smith has renounced the three-point shot, the discussion about what this means for 2009-10 centers on whether the relatively small number of three-pointers Smith attempts will be replaced by shots he's more likely to make.
First let's look at Smith's overall shooting percentages. The graph below shows Smith's career eFG% and TS% at the conclusion of each of his five seasons.
Without eliminating, either by pronouncement or action, the three-point field goal Smith has steadily improved both his eFG% and TS% over the last three seasons. How so? By reducing the percentage of his field goal attempts which are two-point jump shots.
Reducing the two-point jump shots helps because, though Smith makes a higher percentage of those than his three-point attempts, the difference is not enough to overcome the difference in value between the two shots.
For his career, Smith has made 36.2% of 1748 two-point jump shots, providing the Hawks with 0.72 points per possession (before accounting for offensive rebounding*), and 27% of his three-point shots, providing the Hawks with 0.81 points per possession (before accounting for offensive rebounding). Over five seasons, Smith attempting a three-point jumper has been the lesser of two evils for the Hawks.
*The value of all the offensive rebounding opportunities created by Smith's missed jumpers is debatable, though likely marginal. Over the last two seasons the Hawks have had a higher offensive rebounding rate when Smith is off the court than when he is on the court which would, I believe, support the argument against Smith taking low-percentage shots.
In the interests of thoroughness, let me digress by showing that the upward trend in Smith's True Shooting Percentage (TS%) is not fueled by his free throw shooting. Smith's FT Rate has been remarkably consistent throughout his career...
...despite fluctuations in his FT%.
Yes, Smith's 58.8% shooting from the foul line last season reduced his career FT% by almost two-and-a-half percentage points. A return to competence at the free throw line would, by itself, significantly increase Smith's offensive production and efficiency, though not as much as turning as many of his jump shots into closer two-point attempts. Smith made a career-high 64.4% of non-jump shot two-point attempts last year. Smith's increases in eFG% and TS% stems directly from simultaneously taking and making more non-jump shots over the last three years.
Sharp-eyed readers might notice that the lower bounder of this graph is 52% where the upper boundary of the two- and three-point field goal percentage graph is 40%.
Smith has used more than half of his career field goal attempts on shots he's made (collectively) 34% of time and less than half of his career field goal attempts on shots he's made 57% of the time. Shot selection that poor provides Smith with ample opportunity for improvements in both scoring and efficiency, as does last season's inexplicably poor free throw shooting. Furthermore, the ankle injury that cost Smith 13 games likely contributed to Smith posting career lows as an offensive rebounder and shot blocker (both per minute and per opportunity) and failing to match his career average on the defensive glass.
It's difficult to identify an area of his game where Smith is more likely to regress than he is to improve in 2009-10. If he's really beginning to the see the light regarding his own strengths and weaknesses he could make the leap from talented but maddening player to legitimate All-Star.
Sources: 82games, Basketball-Reference.com