Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Season-Long Theme: Josh Smith's Shot Selection

Fueled by a suspicion that this will be a very good week* for Josh Smith, I thought it would be a good time to re-visit his shot selection.

*All-Star reserves are to be announced on an hour-long TNT pre-game show beginning at 7pm (EST) Thursday.

When last we looked at this, his three-point attempts had dropped from 10% of his total field goal attempts last season to 0% of his total field goal attempts this season and his two-point jump shots had dropped from 36% to 28.8% of his total field goal attempts.

Today, he's taken just 3 (two coming as a result of end of quarter heaves, the third coming with 18 seconds left and the Hawks down four in Detroit) three-point field goal attempts this season and his two-point jump shots now comprise 22.9% of his total field goal attempts.

That comes out to 2.7 jump shots per game which is at least 2 jump shots per game too many because Smith still can't make that shot. In fact, he's well below his (already low) career field goal percentage on two-point jumpers. He entered the season a 36.2% two-point jump shooter but has made only 27% of his two-point jumpers so far this season. Zero jump shots in a season isn't a reasonable (or necessary) expectation for him but there's absolutely no need for Smith to take 2.7 jump shots per game. That's at least twice a game he's choosing a(n approximate) 30% chance at two points over a chance to get himself a high percentage shot or draw a foul or make a good pass.

Despite the 114 long two-point jumpers that have produced little more than half a point per possession for his team, Smith is having a career year. He's not simply reduced his bad shot attempts. Rather, he's replaced many of his bad shot attempts with good shot attempts. The shots he's not taking on the perimeter have become shots he takes at the rim (where he's made well over 65% of his attempts for his career) while also drawing the bulk of the fouls that lead to his 5 free throw attempts per game.

Just as importantly, by largely occupying space on the floor where he must be guarded by at least one defender, Smith has used the improved passing lanes to take advantage of his court vision and passing ability and is on pace to set career highs in assists per minute (or game, or possession), assist rate, and a career low turnover rate. He's increased his offensive production without having to increase his usage rate. That's tremendously valuable.

He had an excellent first half of the season. His second half could be even better.


The Beard said...

What I learned from this post:
Josh Smith = bad ass

But seriously, good write up on just how much Josh has improved his efficiency as an offensive player. Who/what do you contribute this improvement to?

Ryan Murphy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Murphy said...

Josh Smith should shoot 3s instead of long 2s. He can't be that much worse, and there is 50% more to gain.

My only worry would be the effect on his inside game of standing that far from the rim. Maybe standing inside the 3 point line is where we can attribute the improvement in his inside game.

Who doesn't want to see Josh Smith shoot step back 3s?