After losing last night, the Pistons are 3-6 on the year. If Detroit was like Manhattan, there would be at least five articles this morning about how Joe Dumars needs to be fired, and his moves this offseason haven’t worked. But there’s a lot of season left to fix things in Motown. One thing that can be fixed today is convincing Josh Smith to ignore his next open three-pointer.
At no point in Josh Smith’s previous nine seasons has he ever averaged more than 2.6 three-point attempts per game. And those 2.6 attempts happened during his last season in Atlanta. Usually, he’s between one and two attempts per game, except for his remarkable 2009-10 season when he only took 7 three-pointers all year (he was 0-for-7).
That 2009-10 season, unsurprisingly, also saw him sport his highest shooting percentage of his career, his second-highest PER (21.0), his highest true shooting percentage and the same stat-heavy defensive numbers. J Smoove is a five-tool player, capable of putting up a 5-by-5 on any night, but he’s got to stay away from the three-point line.
So far through 9 games, Smith is attempting 5.6 three-pointers a game. He is shooting them at the second best mark of his career, but when that’s just 31.4 percent — well below the league average — there’s a problem. Just look at these comparisons between this year’s shot distribution and last season’s, which was still Smith’s career high in attempts from behind the arc:
Smith just isn’t a very good shooter from deep. While his presence close to the Pistons’ paint — with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond involved – can make it crowded, it shouldn’t mean that Smith hovers by the corner three in any Pistons set. He’s a much better offensive threat inside the arc.
The corner three, specifically — normally the best shot in all of basketball, since it’s the shortest shot that will give you three points — is something Josh has particularly struggled with, going 0-for-5 on corner three’s this year. In fact, Smoove climbs near the league average mark on three-pointers overall as long as we don’t count his corner attempts.
Only the Utah Jazz shoot worse from three than Detroit so far this season, and with an underrated shooter in Brandon Jennings combined with Chauncey Billups and Kyle Singler, you’d think they’d be better. In fact, Smith is shooting better than the overall team mark (28 percent), it’s just that the tiny sample size throws everything off (Singler has started the year in a 3-for-21 slump). But it’s disconcerting that Smith leads the team in three-point attempts with 59 through 9 games. Any time your 6-9 combo forward that’s a career 28.5 percent three-point shooter leads the team in three-point attempts, there needs to be a change.
The Pistons have other — more important — problems, too: free throw shooting (second to last in the league), defensive rebounding (dead last), and defensive efficiency (dead last), but a more circumspect Smith will ease Detroit’s issues from deep, hopefully without muddying the spacing in the paint.
Thankfully, despite sharing identical records, the Pistons don’t have to deal with the media succubus in New York, but if they continue to lose while Smith jacks more than five and a half three-pointers per game, look for Dumars — not to be fired, but to start dangling Smith in a trade package. Maybe Steve Mills is interested? We kid. Or do we?
What do you think?
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