Mar 30, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks power forward Josh Smith (5) celebrates against the New York Knicks during the first half at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 100-90. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
The Atlanta Hawks went 11-8 during the month of March and Josh Smith may have been the single biggest reason. Smith did a little bit of everything for the team averaging 23.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
During the month, Smith topped the 30 point scoring plateau six different times topped off by a season-high 34 last time out against Philadelphia. Smith began the month with a 24 point, 19 rebound effort against the Bucks and followed that up with 18 more boards against Milwaukee later in the month. Seven different times Smith grabbed at least 10 rebounds in a game during March.
Smith hit 45 percent of his shots during the month while significantly raising his number of attempts per game. Perhaps his biggest contribution came from the free throw line where Smith connected at a season-best 72 percent. Smith shot 55 percent in December, 50 percent in January and 61 percent in February.
We have talked many times in the past about Josh's shortcomings while at the same time ignoring how many positive contributions he makes to the team. The Hawks navigated a grueling month while utilizing Smith more as the team's primary option. It is no small coincidence that Joe Johnson's hot streak and player of the week award came at a time when Smith was also playing at a high level. Combining the two in tandem creates a variety of problems for opposing defenses no matter the situation.