On the day before Christmas, Houston Rockets fans received the gift they were wishing for in the form of recently waived Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith. Bringing in a multi-facetted talent of Smith’s caliber both brightens the holiday spirit of Rockets’ faithful and fills the team’s need for a formidable power forward.
The Rockets and general manager Daryl Morey have instilled an offense that predicates itself on using advanced statistics to utilize the most efficient type of shots in basketball, mainly the uncontested layup/dunk and three-point shot. Bringing Josh Smith into the fold certainly provides the Rockets with grit and rim protection (1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks per game) that they’ll need in order to contend for a title come June.
That being said, Smith has been chucking three-pointers at an abysmal 24% this season. Additionally Smith is shooting an embarrassing 47% from the free throw line, which will not bode well next to one of the league’s worst free throw shooters in Dwight Howard (51.5%). If he continues to struggle at this rate, Smith will surely disrupt the offensive flow the Rockets have developed with superstars James Harden and Howard at the helm.
NBA fans will soon learn whether Smith can change his inefficient ways for the betterment of his team, put the past two forgettable years behind him, while improving his team’s title chances.
I think he can change his game, while improving his efficiency numbers and helping the Rockets defensively. Smith’s situation in Detroit was doomed from the get-go. Considering the Pistons already had two big men (Drummond and Monroe) in their starting lineup, Smith was forced into playing small forward, a position that doesn’t come naturally for him given his defensive prowess. By playing small forward in Detroit he was forced into staying out on the perimeter, which could explain his poor efficiency ratings over the past couple seasons. So long as head coach Kevin McHale ensures Smith operates in the post and plays the role of a true power forward, the Rockets should be set up well for the playoffs (although Houston’s current power forwards are sure to see decreased playing time).
Josh Smith impressed in Houston’s playoff run, helping the Rockets upset the Los Angeles Clippers in their second round series after being down three games to one. Smith was a key contributor in helping the Rockets reach their first Western Conference Finals since the 1996-97 season.