Josh Smith has attempted a career-high 172 three-point attempts this season while making 30.8 percent. We already discussed his hilarious answer when he was asked about that on Saturday but I want to take a moment on discuss Larry Drew's role in this and what, if any, blame he should share.
First a little background on Smith. He is a career 28 percent shooter from three-point range. His best season came in 2011 when he made 33 percent. This season he has made 58 of 172 attempts or 30.8 percent so he is a little above his career average this season. To go a step forward, Smith is 9-40 (22.5 percent) in March per the AJC.
Taking a step inside the arc Smith is shooting the second worst percentage of his career from 16-23 feet where he is 68-229 for 30.0 percent. Smith is attempting 4.0 shots from 16-23 feet per game which is down from last season when he launched 6.3. His three point attempts have however gone up by nearly a shot per game to 2.5.
So to summarize, 6.5 of Smith's 15.7 shot attempts come from at least 16 feet where he is making approximately 30 percent of his attempts.
The AJC's Chris Vivlamore first reported the career high attempts for Smith and asked Larry Drew for his thoughts:
"No," Drew said when asked if he thought Smith would take so many 3-pointers in the new offense. "I thought when we put our offense in and looking at our personnel with Kyle Korver, DeShawn Stevenson, John Jenkins, Anthony Tolliver is a stretch-3. We've got a number of guys.
"The 3, no, it's not the first shot of choice I want him taking because he is such a dominate force down on the block. He causes a lot of problems when he posts up, particularly when I move him to (small forward). The thing about him is he is a willing passer, which makes it all the better because if you are open and the double-team comes down, he is going to get the basketball out to the open guy.
"I love that about his game. He has the versatility to move in and out. Seeking the early 3, no."
When pressed a little further Drew talks about shot selection and getting three point attempts within the offense. Its early threes after one pass or sequences where Smith holds the ball only to launch a long attempt over a defender that Drew dislikes the most.
"He knows the shots I want him to take and when I want him to take them," Drew said. "It's got to be something within our offense. It's not something where he just comes down and starts launching all over the place. That's not how we play. That's not how we want him to play."
Drew's motion offense takes advantage of several of the Hawks strengths yet at times Smith routinely ends up in the corner or beyond the three point line. Its an offense that takes advantage of players that are multi faceted but it also brings into question whether this should include Smith. Clearly is better the closer to the basket he gets. So why does his coach allow him to take 6.5 shots from beyond 16 feet?
Great question but I don't think it has a simple answer. At this point we know who Josh Smith is so we shouldn't really expect to see any drastic changes from him in his playing style no matter who is coach. If he is open at the arc or in midrange he is going to let it fly.
Many call for Drew to bench Smith when his shot selection goes array but this isn't high school and a coach like Larry Drew that is in the final year of his contract can't afford to bench a Josh Smith. Besides Smith's positives outweigh his negatives on most nights to the point where some of the long jumpers are accepted.
Now going forward it begs to question whether or not Smith needs a fresh offensive outlook. Should Smith re-sign in Atlanta is Larry Drew the coach for him or does he need an offensive system that is better tailored to take advantage of his strengths and expose less of his weaknesses? That is if the Hawks see Smith as a cornerstone piece of the franchise going forward and worth a very large free agent offer.
I'm not blaming Larry Drew in any shape form or fashion for the job he has done with this Hawks team over the last three seasons. I'm just saying its more likely for the system to change at this point than it is to expect a sudden transformation from Smith.