Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith Jump Shot Update

The debate rages on. Does Josh Smith simply not realize that jump shots are bad shots for him? Does he not care? What does Larry Drew say about this, both to Smith and to the team?

Before you ask, I’m well aware that Josh was under the weather on Monday night, and I respect his efforts to get out on the court and give the Hawks big-time minutes. There’s no issue there. But for now, let’s take a quick look at Mr. Smith’s shot distribution this season:

– Entering the game on Monday night (during the 2012-2013 season), Josh was 4 for 18 (22%) from 10-23 feet and 1 for 7 (14%) on threes. In comparison, Josh was 13-21 (62%) at the rim and 8 of 17 (47%) from 3-9 feet.

– In the first 6 years of his career prior to this season, Josh has never shot worse than 63% at the rim. He has also never shot better than 39% from 16-23 feet, or better than 33% on threes.

– On Monday night, Josh Smith shot ELEVEN long two-point shots (from 13 feet or out). Eleven. You may know by now that he converted exactly one of those eleven.

I’m not even sure what to say.

What am I getting at? Although this season is admittedly a very small sample size for shooting statistics, there is a body of work here, and one that suggests that Josh Smith (at age 26, nearly 27) is not a good jump shooter. The long two-point shot is the worst shot in basketball (statistically) and that is a league-wide issue. There has been a big-time focus on Josh’s three-point use, and while this isn’t an ideal shot by any means, his three-point attempts are not the greatest issue. Because of the inherent added value in these makes, the effective field goal percentage on these shots dwarfs that of long twos that he makes at a similar (although slightly better) percentage.

His apparent willingness to continue over-using this shot isn’t going away, but until Smith realizes that his offensive effectiveness is grossly limited by this type of decision-making, his ceiling is lowered significantly. So, the next time you hear the Philips Arena crowd scream “NO!” while Josh gathers for a three-point attempt, remind the person next to you that it’s better to scream “NO!” on a contested 17-footer.

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