Friday, December 11, 2009

Josh Smith: Breaking Out

A follow-up to this shockingly (and, one hopes, not temporarily) prescient post...

Josh Smith's scoring rate is up this year without a concomitant rise in his usage rate.

That's because he's far more efficient (despite currently putting up another sub-59% season at the free throw line) and he's far more efficient because his shot selection has improved.

One reason his usage rate hasn't changed much despite his increased production is that Smith has cut down on turnovers this year. He's also earning more assists, a development I credit to Smith more often putting himself in a position where he must be guarded by one more opponents, thus creating more open passing lanes for him to exploit.

As to the supposition that Josh Smith's career-low offensive rebounding and shot blocking numbers were due to his ankle injury, I can't prove the causal relationship but he's healthy this year and both rates are back to or better than pre-2008-09 levels.

Let's see...
  • Scoring? Up.
  • Shooting percentage? Up.
  • Assists? Up.
  • Turnovers? Down.
  • Offensive rebounding? Up.
  • Defensive rebounding? Up. (21.7% vs. career 19.2%)
  • Shot blocking? Up.
  • Steals? Up. (1.7 per 36 v. career 1.3 per 36)
  • Defense? Excellent. (Hawks allow 13 fewer points per 100 possessions with Smith on the floor this year.)
Add it up and you've got someone 25% of the way to a breakout season.

Credit due and Hoopdata for easing the burden of calculations.

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