Josh Smith hasn’t had a good second round series vs. the Chicago Bulls. In game one, Josh Smith didn’t help the team, scoring only 8 points, grabbing only 8 rebounds, and shooting 3 for 11 from the field (27%). If it wasn’t for Joe Johnson having a huge offensive game that night, the Hawks would have lost. In game two, Josh Smith once again hurt the team more than he helped the team, finishing with 13 points and 6 rebounds while shooting 4 for 13 from the field (29%). This time, there was no one there to answer Josh Smith’s mistakes, so the Hawks lose.
The Hawks are capable of winning games when Josh Smith has a bad game, but they would need huge performances by other players. In this series, I’m not sure if you can rely on players having huge games. First, the Hawks don’t have anyone capable. Joe Johnson & Jamal Crawford are great scorers, but to ask them to get 30 points in each game this series is a hailmary. The Hawks’ best chance in hurting this Chicago Bulls defense is just to get solid performances from each and every player.
Simply, the Hawks won’t win this series with the way Josh Smith has been playing. He’s hurting this team with his decision making, his shot selection, and his coachability. He makes too many dumb passes, he takes too many jumpshots, and he has a horrible body language when he’s not performing well or if calls aren’t going his way. Now, the Hawks don’t need Josh Smith to dominate both ends of the court, but he has to able to help the team more than he hurts the team.
How can he help?
Basically, he has to play his game. He shouldn’t be settling for ill-advised shots, he should be looking to drive the ball. He shouldn’t be hanging around the perimeter, he should be cutting and diving to the basket. He shouldn’t be standing and waving his hands when Joe or Jamal is getting double teamed, he should be looking for open areas near the basket. Josh Smith is baling the other team out when he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do. The defense has done its job if a guy like Josh Smith is the one taking the jumpshot.
Josh Smith is one of the most athletic players in the NBA. He has a Rudy Gay-like vertical leap, a sprint speed like a track runner, and a pretty built body. There’s not a lot of NBA players that would welcome him when he drives inside, and more less people would challenge him when he takes it strong to the basket.
Larry Drew expresses the same thoughts most Hawks enthusiasts (or any person that remotely watches the NBA) have about Josh Smith. Here’s a quote from Larry Drew to the AJC:
“I thought he was trying to do too much. He admitted it, that that was the case. He didn’t feel good about how he was playing. I was going to take him out early in the third quarter. Something told me to leave him in there, kind of let him see if he could play through it, and he did exactly that. I thought for about a five-minute stretch, he got us back in the ballgame on his energy and his effort and just hustling. I think he came up with four blocked shots in that stretch, got out on a break and got a dunk, got a three-point play in that stretch. . . . He is a very unique player. He can impact the game on both ends of the floor. I know since I’ve been here, we haven’t had a player like him that can do that. He has to be flying around and blocking shots and running the floor and making passes. That’s when he’s at his best for us. We can’t have him just sitting out there and launching 3s, because that plays into the opposition’s hands. He realized that.”
I sure hope he realizes it because if the Hawks want to stay competitive against the Bulls, Josh Smith simply has to play better. Get out of the shooting guard mindset and get on this kind of mindset….
If he does, the sky is the limit for Josh Smith & the Hawks(pun intended).