When the Detroit Pistons waived forward Josh Smith it was clear this was certainly not the end of the world for the athletic product out of Oak Hill Academy. And, as expected, the Houston Rockets quickly snapped him up.
As a member of the Rockets, Smith will log more minutes as a power forward (Houston already has two-way capable small forwards in Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer) and this means more time down-low and less time lurking on the perimeter, which should help improve Smith’s field goal percentage for this season which currently stands at around 39 per cent – according to ESPN.com.
Smith’s Rockets debut was a successful one. Whether it was help defence, crashing the boards or nifty little passes from the post, Smith left his mark on the game. He ended up with 21 points, eight boards and three assists. A worrying stat for me was the fact that Smith took as many shots as James Harden and Dwight Howard combined (21 shots that is) but that is a trend I don’t see continuing.
In Smith, the Rockets have added a player who can play both ends of the floor, whose athleticism is highly regarded (just check out any YouTube compilation of J Smoove jams) and a player who now wants to prove to the Pistons and the rest of the NBA that he is still a formidable talent in the league.
In more recent times Smith has tried to convince himself he’s a reincarnation of Reggie Miller, jacking up shots from mid-range and beyond the three-point arc. At just under 28 per cent for his career from downtown, I think it is clear to the whole planet that Smith is a much more dangerous weapon inside. Mind you, in the offense he was part of in Detroit, he wasn’t getting enough possessions and space in the paint to be able to utilise his great finishing ability.
Fun fact: the first and only time Smith shot over 50 per cent from the field in a season was 2009/10 and he attempted … wait for it … seven three-pointers for the entire regular season! (Mind you, he made zero of those.)
Surprisingly, the 2005 Slam Dunk Champion is a 45 per cent career field goal shooter, even with his horrendous three-point record.
Smith, over the past two seasons, found it difficult to gel with his frontcourt teammates Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, but with offensive dynamo Harden and defensive juggernaut Howard at his side, he can help elevate the Rockets in a punishing Western Conference.
For your viewing pleasure, here is one of those aforementioned compilation videos highlighting the athleticism of Josh Smith.