There is no bigger lightning rod for discussion about the Atlanta Hawks than Josh Smith. As close observers of Smith, Hawks fans likely don't appreciate what all Smith brings to the table on a nightly basis. After all there aren't many power forwards in the league that are as physically gifted as Smith athletically nor do they possess the all around game. Others around the league take notice, and Josh Smith checks in at No. 29 in SLAM's countdown of the Top 50 players in the NBA.
When you follow a player for the entire 82 games season plus the playoffs, his flaws tend to become much more clearer than when you check him out on those rare occasions that Atlanta shows up on ESPN or another national broadcast. Smith is a self described emotional player and he wears those emotions on his sleeve at times but by far the biggest criticism always comes back to shot selection.
Indeed, Smoove does rely on his jumper too much and has been criticized for shot selection throughout his career, but he has drastically improved his shooting over the last three seasons, posting a 49.1 percent mark, compared to his first four in which he shot 44.4 percent.
Funny enough, Smith went from attempting only seven three-balls in '09-10 (and converting none of them) to jacking up the most, 154, of his career last year and actually connecting on nearly a third of them with 51 treys. Oh, and for good measure, he just happened to record his best free-throw clip as well at 72.5 percent.
For most Hawks fans, the problem isn't that Smith will take a three point attempt it is rather when Smith chooses to take those attempts that is the biggest concern. Still his numbers are improving and while that may make some fans in Atlanta cringe, it is a sign that Smith is working hard on his game.
I heard Larry Drew say on more than one occasion last season that with Smith you had to take the good with the bad. Sure the bad stands out but the good has slowly started to become overlooked. Not many players are capable of stuffing the stat sheet in as many different ways as Smith and there is added pressure on his shoulders since he is the home town guy.
If you listen to the rumors, Atlanta may decide to part ways with Smith before his contract expires in 2013. If so, the Hawks fans everywhere better hope that the front office recognizes what Smith gives the team because it is not going to be easy to replace.