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Josh Smith no longer deserves to be long-2 whipping boy

Dec 27, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT

Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat Getty Images

What’s the worst shot in basketball?

A long 2 taken by Josh Smith.

At least that seems to be the prevailing opinion of many.

As basketball analytics have exposed the ineffectiveness of long 2s, Smith has become a poster child for taking the shot too often. Really, all Smith’s jumpers get criticized, but his long 2s draw particular ire.

It’s time to find a new target, because Smith has made significant strides with his shot selection.

His shot chart doesn’t look great. Far from it. But its improved to the point he no longer deserves as much scorn as he gets.

Smith is still taking about the same percentage of his shots from beyond 16 feet as usual – 44 percent this season compared to 41, 45 and 44 the previous three years.

But Smith is wisely drifting back the extra few feet to get an extra point on each make and to space the floor better. Of all his shots from at least 16 feet, 61 percent are 3-pointers – by far a career high. In previous seasons, that number has ranged from 3 percent to 42 percent.

Overall, just 17 percent of Smith’s shots are long 2s, a career low.

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So Smith converting his long 2s into 3s is one thing, but should he even be taking 3s in the first place?

Probably. Or at least he can make the argument.

The Pistons, as parsed from MySynergySports, score .87 points per play excluding transition and putbacks. That way, we’re essentially looking at regular halfcourt plays.

Smith is shooting 27 percent on 3-pointers this season, .80 points per attempt. If Smith were shooting his career percentage on 3-pointers, 28, his shots beyond the arc would yield .84 points per attempt.

Both those marks fall short of .87, but I doubt the Pistons would score that much per play if Smith weren’t shooting from the perimeter.

With Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, two players who lack range beyond the paint, also starting for Detroit, the Pistons need Smith to spread the floor. He’s the best option of the three.

Smith could probably stand to shoot fewer jumpers, and of the ones he does take, more of them from beyond the arc. But he deserves a pat on the back for making significant progress in understanding and executing that.

  1. norcalkingsfan - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    As far as inefficient long-2s go, Carmelo is king.

  2. gquesen - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Lamarcus Aldridge takes long twos all the time (makes almost all of them) people seem to live his shot selection.

  3. dinofrank60 - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    If Smith can’t shoot long twos, why shoot threes? I know, I know, numbers, blah, blah. Wouldn’t it better to shoot easier shots? Shots that are easier to make? You can’t just dial up threes, despite what some people think. It’s not gonna get easier shooting the longer shot.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      The whole point is getting to those “easier” shots isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. The whole argument here is on the outer shots are going to be taken.. we know that.. but if he’s going to take them, stepping back for the extra point, or, finding a higher percentage shot is something he has vastly improved. If just going to the basket and taking high percentage shots was easy, than I don’t think we’d be having this conversation in the first place. Although, Smith has learned to post up this season and get to the rim..

      • dinofrank60 - Dec 27, 2013 at 7:38 PM

        Stepping back a few feet will not do him any good. Those long twos are already chancy, now we are asking him to take an unnatural 3? You really want Smith to take six threes a game? I’m not that brave, He’s better off passing the ball; we’re not talking about Curry or Reddick here.

        Next thing you know, you’ll be asking somebody like Andrew Bynum to be shooting threes. 😮

      • jaerba - Dec 28, 2013 at 1:31 AM

        Yes, Smith is better off taking 6 3’s per game than 6 long 2’s.

        If you could force Smith to take all his shots within 15 feet, you would. But that’s not possible, so at least he’s gunning for the significantly more valuable low efficiency shot.

      • dinofrank60 - Dec 29, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        But he can’t shoot. Maybe he lights it up on the games I don’t see, but when I see him he’s clanging.

  4. gquesen - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:37 PM


  5. sportsfan18 - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    yeah, the worst shot is now a Josh Smith 3 pointer instead of a Josh Smith long 2 pointer.

    • sportsfan18 - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:31 PM

      Well for all players who have attempted at least 100 3 pointers, he is in LAST place percentage wise.

      He is shooting .266% from 3 pt range this season.

      AND, Josh’s career 3 point percentage is a whopping .281% but he’s BELOW that this season.

      AND, per NBA STATS dot com under 3 pt shooting, he is in LAST place for 3 pt percentage this year.

      LAST place.

  6. obmig - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    If I was his coach and he shot a 3 he would sit right next to me for 2 straight quarters.

  7. dondada10 - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    Josh Smith along with Monroe and Drummond was never going to work. Their skills are redundant and they all excel in the same spots on the court.

  8. brunobuckeye - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    I do not know where you are getting your numbers, but Josh Smith is definitely not the best 3 point option that detroit has. Opponents want him to shoot the 3 because he is so bad at it. Detroit should try to work a trade for Martell Webster or Trevor Ariza for Greg Monroe and move Josh to Power Forward.

    • spursareold - Dec 28, 2013 at 9:12 AM

      .?? No one said he was their best option from 3. What they said was that him shooting a 3 is better than him shooting a long 2.

  9. weaselpuppy - Dec 27, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    Monroe would bring back more than a jorneyman swing starter or a young swing starter with fewer skills….ick.

  10. louhudson23 - Dec 28, 2013 at 5:38 AM

    Smith is Smith. Useless in helping a team win,mindless in execution,clueless in game play. But hey,he jumps well and pouts with the best of them….

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