Shook Ankles: Is This The League’s Most Coveted Trade Chip?
Lockout be damned, it’s July 4th and I yearn for some offseason NBA trade speculation. There’s Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bynum, and Andrea Bargnani all seemingly available for the right price, but Josh Smith remains the most intriguing of the bunch. Apart from LeBron James and possibly Blake Griffin, you’d be pressed to find another NBA player possessing more pure raw athleticism in his body. The pogo stick shot blocking ability, the unparalleled ability to instill reassurance in the distributor on any alley-oop attempt he’s involved in, Josh Smith has it all on both ends. What he doesn’t have, however, is self awareness.
Smith is so stubborn—inhabiting his own personal bubble in which helpful criticism has yet been able to permeate—in proving that his weaknesses are strengths, that he’d rather shoot jumper after jumper than make his bones in the paint. For this, he’s been labeled a finesse player. Not a bad thing for a guard who shoots 40 percent from deep, but dreaded for Josh Smith. After attempting just 0.1 three-pointers in 2010, for whatever reason Smith upped the ante by 1.9 per game in 2011. He took three shots a game from 16-23 feet in 2010 and made 29 percent for the season. His response to this was increasing the attempts to 4.3 and lowering his shots at the rim from 6.7 to 4.4. The easy explanation for this would be injury related, but Smith started all 77 games he played in, and worked a respectable 34.4 minutes a game. It’s enigmatic. He’s enigmatic. But Smith is so good that it’s impossible to say whether or not his career can turn itself around in a new environment or not. A player of his pure talent is worth the gamble, though.
The clip shown above is utterly ridiculous. Smith—remember kids, he’s a power forward—goes behind the back to juke out the best defensive guard in basketball, then, instead of going coast to coast and putting Mario Chalmers on a poster, has the unselfish thought to whip a one handed cross court bounce pass to a wide open Joe Johnson for three. It’s a tiny sample of how omnipresent Smith can be when he wants to.