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Hoopinion: Season-Long Theme: Josh Smith's Shot Selection


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#1 Hawksquawk

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 04:42 AM

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.

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#2 jerrywest

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 10:30 AM

What would be Smith's PER if he didn't take any jump shot?

#3 mrhonline

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 10:38 AM

What would be Smith's PER if he didn't take any jump shot?


You'd have to know how Hollinger calculates it to know that...

But I still think Smith should be an All-Star. His ability to make contributions in all sorts of ways (blocks, rebounds, assists, steals, points) is impressive.

#4 mrhonline

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 10:46 AM

I do know that his ORtg (pts/possession) has gone from 103 last year to 112 this year with minimal change in his usage. That's phenomenal.

#5 spotatl

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 10:54 AM

Here's how I look at it.
Joe, Rondo, Bosh, and Pierce are locks. That leaves 3 spots. One goes to a center and I'd say that Horford is actually the favorite (though probably just a 33% chance). That leaves 2 spots

I think Gerald Wallace is a lock. He has the same game as Josh but the Rebounding will cause voters go give it to him.

And then the last spot comes down to Josh Smith vs Derrick Rose. Both players are screwed because of Iverson- normally both could get it. Josh Started strong and then tapered- Rose started slow but has been killing it lately.

Personally I think that voters have short memories so Rose will probably get in, and coaches will more directly see that the fans voting for Iverson really screwed Rose.

#6 JackB1

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 11:11 AM

You know what hurts Josh more than his 2-3 missed jumpers per game? His horrible 60% free throw percentage.
I would love to see Josh work on his free throws more and never take any jumpers over 15-18 feet. Just like Al & Zaza do.

#7 ahlthe3rd

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 11:13 AM

Here's how I look at it.
Joe, Rondo, Bosh, and Pierce are locks. That leaves 3 spots. One goes to a center and I'd say that Horford is actually the favorite (though probably just a 33% chance). That leaves 2 spots

I think Gerald Wallace is a lock. He has the same game as Josh but the Rebounding will cause voters go give it to him.

And then the last spot comes down to Josh Smith vs Derrick Rose. Both players are screwed because of Iverson- normally both could get it. Josh Started strong and then tapered- Rose started slow but has been killing it lately.

Personally I think that voters have short memories so Rose will probably get in, and coaches will more directly see that the fans voting for Iverson really screwed Rose.



Lee will get in over Horford. Smoove should make it over Rose. Hawks have the 5th or 6th best record in the NBA. They deserve more than 1 all-star...especially if Boston is getting 3.

I don't have a problem with 2.7 jumpers per game. He doesn't take bad jumpers (early in the shot clock, contested). He's always wide open when he shoots the jumpers. Maybe he could get it down to 2 attempts per game but if he's wide open at 15-18 feet he should take the shot. I've seen games where he knocks down 3 out of 4 jumpers.

#8 ahlthe3rd

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 11:17 AM

You know what hurts Josh more than his 2-3 missed jumpers per game? His horrible 60% free throw percentage.
I would love to see Josh work on his free throws more and never take any jumpers over 15-18 feet. Just like Al & Zaza do.


Guess you haven't noticed but Smoove has been basically lights out (by his standards) from the line in the last few games. In the last 5 games he's 22-29 (75.8%). That includes 6-6 vs. OKC.

#9 macdaddy

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 11:19 AM

I haven't seen every game but most of them and Josh hasn't taken too many 'bad' jumpers. A fair amount are end of the clock or wide open looks from 12 feet. In fact, the only really bad ones in recent memory actually went in. So I don't think the jumpers he is taking are mental lapses. Sometimes you just have to take it.

This is the beauty of what the Hawks are this season. They value each possession the way Lenny's teams did.



#10 jerrywest

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 11:31 AM

I don't have a problem with 2.7 jumpers per game. He doesn't take bad jumpers (early in the shot clock, contested). He's always wide open when he shoots the jumpers. Maybe he could get it down to 2 attempts per game but if he's wide open at 15-18 feet he should take the shot. I've seen games where he knocks down 3 out of 4 jumpers.



Whether he is open or not isn't the issue. The clear fact is it goes in 27% of the time, which is equivalent to 3 pointers going in 18% of the time. Would you want him to shoot wide open 3 pointers at 18% rate? Those should be charged as turnovers in his stat line.

It is bad business, period.

#11 mrhonline

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 11:34 AM

Whether he is open or not isn't the issue. The clear fact is it goes in 27% of the time, which is equivalent to 3 pointers going in 18% of the time. Would you want him to shoot wide open 3 pointers at 18% rate? Those should be charged as turnovers in his stat line.

It is bad business, period.


Exactly.

A low percentage shot is a low percentage shot.

#12 ahlthe3rd

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 11:47 AM

Whether he is open or not isn't the issue. The clear fact is it goes in 27% of the time, which is equivalent to 3 pointers going in 18% of the time. Would you want him to shoot wide open 3 pointers at 18% rate? Those should be charged as turnovers in his stat line.

It is bad business, period.



Well, I disagree. In the grand scheme of things he isn't hurting the team by taking those jumpers. Less than 3 shots per game out of 75-90 that the team takes per night? I don't want him taking a 3 if he's open but like I said, he has had nights where he would knock down 75% of his jumpers so he has proven that its a shot he can make. As long as its not early in the clock and not contested. You don't encourage a player to limit his game, you encourage him to expand it. If he's only taking 3 per game I think that's a good number going forward and with practice he can consistently knock down 2 out of those 3.

In the words of Cris Carter: "Chuck it, homie!"

#13 jerrywest

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 12:05 PM

Well, I disagree. In the grand scheme of things he isn't hurting the team by taking those jumpers. Less than 3 shots per game out of 75-90 that the team takes per night? I don't want him taking a 3 if he's open but like I said, he has had nights where he would knock down 75% of his jumpers so he has proven that its a shot he can make. As long as its not early in the clock and not contested. You don't encourage a player to limit his game, you encourage him to expand it. If he's only taking 3 per game I think that's a good number going forward and with practice he can consistently knock down 2 out of those 3.

In the words of Cris Carter: "Chuck it, homie!"


Let's see.

The close games we lost, we would have won those if Josh was calculative enough to avoid low probability shots.

If he didn't think like you, we would be in 1st place in the East right now. BIG difference.

Josh Smith left all his 3 pointer supporters in the alter this year. Soon he will leave all his jumper supporters gasping for air.

You don't expand your game by incorporating low probability plays into your game. You don't see Tim Duncan shooting 3s. He could have done it better than Smoove.

#14 ahlthe3rd

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 12:40 PM

Let's see.

The close games we lost, we would have won those if Josh was calculative enough to avoid low probability shots.

If he didn't think like you, we would be in 1st place in the East right now. BIG difference.

Josh Smith left all his 3 pointer supporters in the alter this year. Soon he will leave all his jumper supporters gasping for air.

You don't expand your game by incorporating low probability plays into your game. You don't see Tim Duncan shooting 3s. He could have done it better than Smoove.


So you're blaming close losses on Josh taking jumpers?? That's ridiculous. Who's to say in those close losses Josh didn't make his jump shots those games? Do you remember every possession of every game? I doubt it. Also its possible that if he passes up those jumpers and drives to the basket he commits a charge or turns the ball over when he dribbles. See what I'm doing now? It's a lot of "what if".

If his missed jumpers aren't directly influencing the outcome of a game you can't say with confidence that they are bad shots.

#15 AHF

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 12:46 PM

If his missed jumpers aren't directly influencing the outcome of a game you can't say with confidence that they are bad shots.


I can say with absolute confidence that his jump shoots are bad shots. They look bad when you look at the FG% but they look really bad when you look at the TS% because he never gets to the line on those shots.

Other teams will give him open jumpers all day long and it is his job to go inside where he is an effective scorer and resist the urge to fire a low % jumper. This is the nearly the exact same issue as him shooting 3's.

Arguing that Smith's shots are not bad is like arguing that Chris Kaman shooting one half-court jumper per game isn't a bad shot because you can't definitely say that such a terrible shot directly influences the outcome of a game.

All you have during a game is an accumulation of smaller decisions and moments. The decision by Josh to take jumpers is a poor one. The decision to shoot more inside is a great one. (This applies even if he goes 3/3 on jumpers one game. When his chance of success is 27% then he will make all 3 jumpers 2% of the time. Getting lucky doesn't make the decision a good one.)