Nov 28, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) shoots over Charlotte Bobcats center Byron Mullens (22) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 94-91. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Smith's Brick Index Tells a Familiar Tale

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, “Josh Smith is hurting the team with his shot selection”. A shocker I know, but throughout Smoove’s nine year career, this issue has never been remedied. Currently, in a contract year, Josh Smith is shooting his worst eFG% (.456) and second worse TS% (.464) of his career
For reference, league averages are .49 and .53 for each respectively. Even his elite defense cannot save him from those putrid offensive numbers, but what is causing this poor output?

Per’s advance stats for each player here, there are 5 areas on the court, Corner 3, Above the Break 3, Mid-range, In the Paint (Non-Restricted Area), and Restricted Area. In one area, he shoots 34.1% of his shots, the most among all five areas. In that same area, he shoots his worst percentage of all areas at 21%. I invite my readers to take a wild guess as to which area that is. Hint: It rhymes with “Lid Change”.

His effectiveness from that area is even in decline. Two years ago, he shot 39% from there, and last year 36%. Now, Josh Smith has a 33.6% eFG% on all jumpshots, which includes three pointers, so far in the 2012-13 season, which is 10 points lower than league average.

Neil Paine of decided to go further in his analysis of the leading active bricklayers here (Insider). He uses a John Hollinger metric in breaking down the shot clankers of the past decade. First, take a player’s eFG% on jumpshots and then weight it based on how many the player takes and both of these factors comprise a Brick Index where 0 is league average and can either be positive or negative. See here for more details.

Josh Smith comes in fifth among active players of the brick index behind Tyreke Evans, Andray Blatche, Roy Hibbert and Blake Griffin. Strangely, that top five is filled with past All-Stars (Hibbert and Griffin), former fringe All-Stars (Evans’s rookie season and Smith’s two seasons prior to this one), and one perplexing and enigmatic headcase Andray Blatche. There is no lack of talent among any of them, but some like Josh Smith have proven that they simply do not possess the ability to hit jump shots at a high rate over a long career.

The diagnosis is simple but the treatment is much more difficult. Should the head coach do everything in his power to curb those shots from a certain area or is it a lost cause? Can Josh Smith somehow find his touch in his ninth season in the National Basketball Association? Can a different organization maximum his strengths while minimizing his weaknesses mentioned above? These questions are difficult to answer but worth monitoring as Josh nears a large payday in the offseason.

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