Smashing Success

Well, here we sit at 4th in the Eastern Conference standings, with Orlando 3 and a half games ahead of us, and Detroit just a game behind us.  The gap widens a good bit more with Miami being 3 and a half games behind us, and New Jersey even further away. But more on this later (probably much later), seeing as how position in the standings doesn’t mean as much now, as it will after  the all-star break. Not to say that our better-than-ever record isn’t something to be applaued and enjoyed. It most certainly is. But the real jockeying for position happens later in the season. And a lot can happen between now and then. As I said, more on that later.

As of now, the Hawks have found themselves not only competitors, but winners in the types of games that they surely would have lost last year. We’ve talked about Bibby’s effect on this team, and how we’re playing the  game better. We’ve talked about Marvin taking his game to the next stage in evolution.  It seems like the whole team has been in a state of transition, mostly for the better. Another player whose game seems to be in transition is none other than Josh Smith. Sure, his penchant for wanting to make the big play frustrates us all when it goes bad, but no one can knock the guy’s effort.

Smith has dazzled teammates and opponents alike with his supreme athletic ability, and it’s always been something he could fall back on. One seriously bad play has usually been followed up shortly thereafter with an equally brilliant play, often times a display of sheer athleticism and effort. Unfortunately, games are both won and lost on such plays, and while turnovers-per-game is a statistic, unbelievable plays-per-game is not. And when Smith returned to action from that high ankle sprain that held him out for 12 games, he was not the same explosive player we’ve come to know. At first, this was a serious struggle for Smith, not being able to block shots from seemingly impossible angles, unable to take that long first step to get past his defender, and unable to outhustle opponents in general. But it seems that he has learned some lessons on how to score without those physical advantages. He’s been getting to the free throw line more in some games. He’s looking to score more inside than he is outside (though he still goes for a couple of threes every game, it seems). And this has produced nice results for the span of the last 6 games, in which Josh has averaged 21 points, hitting 20 points or better in 4 of those games, all while shooting 57% from the field. Unfortunately, he’s also had an average of 3.5 turnovers per game through that 6 game stretch, and his rebounds have been down to about 5.3 per. Of course, with more touches comes the risk of more turnovers.

Are we finally beginning to see him “get it?” Or is this just a good stretch of basketball being played by our one man highlight factory? Only time will tell. Perhaps Josh will never be a mastermind or great student of the game. Perhaps he will always be what he is now: a physically gifted athlete that does what few others in this league can do, but with limitations in some areas. Perhaps we expect too much, or expect the wrong things from him. Or maybe not. Some say that the key to the Hawks’ path to elite status in the East is in Josh’s hands. Others say he will always be a hindrance to the furtherance of this team. Which one is right? Who knows. It could be that both ideas are not quite accurate.

One thing is for certain: just like Bibby, this team needs Smith and is better with him than without him.  The Hawks’ record “with him” vs “without him” makes that rather clear all by itself.

So, is Josh beginning to turn that corner, or has he not made that stride just yet? Will learning to be JSmoove make him better at being JSmash, or will he keep trying to do things he’s not so good at? Will he play smarter and better, or are we seeing what we’re going to get right now ?  And finally, should Josh continue to work on his outside shot ( as painful a growing process as it can be), or should he spend his time honing his post game and doing the things he knows how to do?

48 comments Add your comment

doc

January 5th, 2009
12:55 am

i think he is more of a student of the game than most give him credit for. it is because of his innate abilities that he plays it at a very rarified level and is either death defying when it works or stupid when it doesnt work. what seems impossible to ordinary folks he seems to take as mundane so we will have to deal with the mercurial aspect of this hero as he learns to control his powers, i think the injury has allowed him to begin to manifest this sooner. it reminds me of the character in the movie that will smith played this summer. oh it was fun to see j smash last night.

MannyT

January 5th, 2009
2:17 am

The current mix of this team requires Smith to do more inside than on the perimeter. However, his best long term options would be to develop that outside shot at some point down the road. He doesn’t have to be a great, shooter, but good enough to make a pump fake on a jump shot slow down the defense.

Now I didn’t see that movie to which the good doc refers, but I caught a minute of it on cable. Not sure the ending worked out well for W Smith. Hopefully J Smith as a better ending.

BWAF

Najeh Davenpoop

January 5th, 2009
2:19 am

Whether he is getting it or not, even if Josh Smith doesn’t ever improve for the rest of his career his positives still far outweigh his negatives in my opinion.

I still think if the Hawks’ offensive system had more clearly defined roles for each player his turnovers and ill-advised shots wouldn’t happen so much. Woody still hasn’t decided whether he’s a do-it-all swingman, a post playing big man, some combination of the two or something totally different. Clearly Josh has a lot of skills that are each usually found in very different kinds of players, and the coaching staff hasn’t quite figured out how to deploy him in a way that gets the most out of his skills. I do think they are making progress in that area though, which is also why we are seeing him “get it”.

If he could develop a reliable mid-range shot and a go-to post move, he would really be unstoppable. In both those areas he has improved but he’s still a work in progress. As far as his problems with turnovers on the fast break, it would be nice if a) he was more willing to give the ball up to one of the guards early on the break, and b) the guards were able to keep up with his speed as he runs down the court.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 5th, 2009
2:20 am

Wow, nice to see a blog where posts show up immediately after you hit “submit”… wonder why they can’t apply this new-fangled technology to all the other blogs too?

G Money

January 5th, 2009
7:45 am

It always shocks me how much ink JSmoove gets compared to the other Hawks players. It is so obvious that Smoove’s game and his approach to the game far surpass where he was this time last year. Pre-injury Smoove was in some ways better than post-injury Smoove – but wouldn’t you expect that? Without him on Saturday night, the Hawks were doomed.

The real conversation should be about Joe Johnson and what he does/doesn’t bring to the party every night. While brilliant one-on-one offensively, his defense is sometimes lacking; his shot selection can be questionable; and he seems at times moody, self-absorbed, and disconnected from his teammates. We all see Woody publicly casitgating Smoove but never a word for JJ. Smoove isn’t 19 anymore. It’s time for a more mature approach to a more mature player.

The reality is that what makes us all sometimes cringe, isn’t always about the play of Josh Smith. Josh’s desire and athletic abilities are evident the minute he walks on the court. You can see that he wants to be a leader even though this is and should be JJ’s team. However, the examples of leadership that he has to follow, whether they be Woody or JJ, are clearly works in progress as well. While Pfund works with both Woody and JJ on this skill set, he would be wise to spend time with Smoove also.

If there is one area of his game that needs work, it’s his handles. Josh has to work on his dribbling in order to capitalize on his explosive first step to the basket. Too many times he starts his move to the basket or attempting to get out and lead a break; he dribbles the ball off of his left leg or foot. The ball also makes for an easy target for steals and disruptions because he dribbles it so far away from his body. He fixes the handles and continues to be a student of the game, he’s golden.

Big Ray

January 5th, 2009
10:52 am

GREAT comments, guys. Really good stuff. Keep it coming.

Matt = niremetal

January 5th, 2009
11:32 am

I don’t see Josh’s outside shot greatly improving during his career. He should spend his time focusing on his low post skills and ballhandling (so that he’s more dangerous driving to the hole). J-Smoove only becomes J-Smash when he gets to the rim. Outside 12 feet, he’s actually among the least smooth/smoove forwards in the league.

fudd21

January 5th, 2009
12:23 pm

Matt, I have to agree with you on that one. I think with his speed and athleticism if he just concentrated on his low post game and drives to the basket he would be very hard to contain. There are many 4’s that could stay in front of Josh if he attempted to go to the hole. Even when he is wide open on the perimeter. With his outstanding leaping ability Josh is never more than 2 dribbles and 2 steps away from getting to the rim. Stop trying to show that you can be effective outside shooter and do what you do best. Heck the good doctor couldn’t shoot a lick from the outside but that didn’t stop him from being of the best of all time. Go to the hole young fella!

The Hawksta

January 5th, 2009
1:31 pm

Great comments fellas! I concur wholeheartedly with Gmoney. JJ does look moody out there. It’s as if he’s going through something at home? Hate to speculate like that but I have yet to see him smile this year. Is that his game face? I don’t know but it’s kind of discouraging as a fan because you like to be able to get a read on your team. Even Nique was shock to see Joe dunk the other day. Do a shimmy shake or something Joe. You’d be amazed at how the team follows your swagger. Better yet get a tech when the opposing team fouls you for the 5th time dang! Love ya Joe, but the better you get the more we depend on ya! Believe that! Great post Ray!

Freshmaker

January 5th, 2009
2:04 pm

Josh still seems to be working his way back physically, in my opinion. He’s obviously healthy enough to be out there, but he hasn’t quite gotten his explosiveness back yet. Maybe he still needs to build up some strength in his legs. Nice to see him have that kind of day offensively. All I can say is…wow. All 5 of our starters are capable of putting up 20 on any given night – that’s tough for opposing defenses. We’ve got some real weapons now. And how about Joe with 14 dimes the other night? Dude’s averaging 22/6/5. Incredible. If he keeps this up he’s going to make a run at MVP. Great to see the Hawks come right back after the tough loss at NJ as well. Frustrating to see them blow a 20 point lead, but at least they got over it quickly.

KevinA

January 5th, 2009
2:15 pm

The Hawks don’t seem to play with the same energy in the first quarter and when they get leads. Their lock down defense is exellent in the 4th quarter or when their behind. I would like to see the bench much earlier in the first quarter including minutes for Law and Solo. Playing 10 throughout the first half would set up for fresher legs in the 4th quarter. Imposing our will through defense will determine how far the Hawks will go. Gotta have fresh legs to play 48 min.

JJ and Bibby are getting better at finding the big men in a position they can score or pass. The increased scoring of Smooth is a result. Smooth is not a post up player and may never be. He is exellent reciving and scoreing in motion. Watching Smooth attack the hoop after a well deliverd pass and ZaZa and Big Al crashing the glass is a thing of beauity. With Smooth we will just have to live with a few turn overs. He more than makes up for them with his blocked shots and steals. Have you noticed our assist totals? In theory 20 assists is a bench mark for an unselfish team. When the Hawks are “cooking with bacon fat” their totals are closer to 30. I have never critized JJ in a blog, but as the Hawks mature I would love to see his assist totals go up and the number of his shots go down.

LTLT

January 5th, 2009
6:27 pm

I got to disagree. I’m not impressed by what Smith has done lately at all. How can a starting PF in the estern conference avg 5.3 rpg in 6 games. Are you kidding me? His ability to block shot has disapeared, and his defense, even though it was never great, it’s worse now that he’s not 100%. He still keeps taking long jump shots, which I still don’t get. Then, Woodson tried to isolate him down in the post, and guess what, we had a turnover machine right there. Smith has talent, do not get me wrong, what he doesn’t have is the hunility to understand that there’s things you do to help your team win and others you just got to stop doing if you do not wantto hurt your team. Every time he touches the ball, it’s like I’m about to have a heart attack…

twenty and ten always wins

January 5th, 2009
6:55 pm

Josh has great skills. He needs to let the ego go! If he could get the ball at the top of the key every other play I’m sure he could be a dunk and dish (18pts/10rbs) type player which is always good. But he needs to learn this…when you get older the vertical isn’t always going to be there. He must attain better ball handling, and a mid-range jumper. Plus, let the gaurds and swingman gaurd/forwards shoot the 3’s man!!! It pains me to have to watch Josh shoot anything outside 15 feet in a close game. I know Josh hates Woody telling him anything, but he needs to listen to the fans here, you’ll be a better player by bulking up, working on the mid-range jumper and using your athleticsm to create better shots for your team-mates. Not to mention the work he does on the glass and blocking shots already makes him a great defensive player. If he isn’t willing to do whats best for the team, then he needs to go! Ask Ben Gordon…he has had the same problems in Chicago, he wont adapt to what the Bulls need him to do. He’s on his way outta there. Maybe Josh would do better as a 6th man? That way he gets his shots and we get a real power forward or center for that matter.

big B

January 5th, 2009
6:59 pm

I agree 100% with LTLT when is this guy going to listen to his coaches, he is a basket head who is not going to improve or listen to his coaching staff. I was his biggest fan until the end of last season, but all the turnoves, all the outside shots and all the careless passes has to stop, he needs to listen to his coach if he is going to get better, i mean after waiting 5 years and 58 million dollars the guy still doesn’t get it and hawks fans are just tired of waiting for him to change, he is not going to change, i hope for the sake of the fans this guy is going to listen to his coaching staff asap.

elmer fudd

January 5th, 2009
7:21 pm

Enter your comments here

When the knicks get james you guys will be toast.

The Hawksta

January 5th, 2009
7:55 pm

Listen fellas damn! Josh Smith became Josh Smith of the NBA because of his game! Not for what you think his game should be! All he needs is a Hakem the Dream shake and bake fadeaway and a two dribble fake and he will be a hall of famer! Stop with all the other stuff. He’s working with the Dream in the off season and one day it will pay off. I only seen him use the shake and bake fadeaway one time in the game. Hell he looked more shocked then me that he tried it(lol)! Woody has changed his tactics when it comes to Josh because I don’t see the venom any more when Josh comes off the court. Chill, I see a new horizon. He’s a competitor who will make you eat your words! Ray once again… Great post! You or Ando need to analyze and challenge JJ. He needs it!

RA

January 5th, 2009
8:01 pm

Okay, here’s the thing, I think that the worse thing that Josh Smith can do is take a three pointer, and hit it. Because at that point, he becomes, in his mind, a three point shooter, and while he’s not a terrible three point shooter, it so let’s other teams off the hook when he settles out there. What I think, for what it’s worth, is that Josh Smith needs to develop his inbetween game. If he could drive, stop on a dime and shoot a 10 to 15 foot jump shot with accuracy, there isn’t a defender in the league that could stay with him. That was the shot that took Jordan from being athletic to being great. But his defense is what makes him so valuable. For every time he turns the ball over, he changes three or four shots by virtue of just being in the game. He’ll never get defensive player of the year, until Kevin Garnette retires (God let it be sooner than later), but that’s where his game is.

Oh and Elmer Fudd, if indeed that is your real name, we toasted King James the last time Cleveland was in town as I recall, and they have a much better supporting cast than New York, but then again New York did beat Boston… I guess according to Kevin Garnette the Celtics and the Nicks have a rivalry now. I think the Celts are one of the few teams in Basketball with a rivalry against the Nicks… Go figure.

jhan

January 5th, 2009
8:05 pm

Sign me up for jsmash!

I took my father (not a person who follows the NBA at all) to the OKC game & his comment about Josh was, “The guy looks like he’s trying to do things beyond his abilities.”

I’ve made the Brett Favre analogy before – He brings you to your feet multiple times during a game. 1/2 you scream for joy, the other 1/2 you scream WTF!!!

Sautee

January 5th, 2009
8:09 pm

big B,

How do you know he’s not listening to his coaches? Are you there with them at practice? Who do you think draws up the plays, the players? If Josh is stationed at the 3 point line, it’s because that’s the DESIGN of the coaches. If THEY have that kind of faith in him, you’d think that his “biggest fan until the end of last season” could also.

Do you KNOW that he’s a basket head? Do any of you know Josh personally?

LTLT,

You DO know that he’s not yet 100% right?

His rebounding totals will rise throughout the season as his ankle improves. If you’ve watched then you know that it’s certainly not for lack of effort. In fact, he should be lauded for struggling along for the last 10 games or so, giving what he could to help the team. That’s CERTAINLY NOT selfish.

And yet because he makes some dumb mistakes, you’ll throw him under the bus.

twenty and ten,

How do you know that Josh hates Woody telling him anything? Both Josh AND Woody have called this story a lie and say they have totally patched up any differences. Did you know that? Or do you know either of them personally?

hawkfan

January 5th, 2009
8:21 pm

something interesting I found, an interview with acie law, http://layupdrill.com/2009/01/acie-law-interview/

something interesting:

LayupDrill.com: How is it playing alongside a veteran like Mike Bibby?

Acie: Its great. He’s a cool dude and since the first day he’s gotten here he’s taken me under his wing and taught me so much. Having him here is better preparing me for when its my time to take over the team.

Da Real Real

January 5th, 2009
8:59 pm

I’ve always said that I believe Smoove have a better post game than even he himself realizes. Both he and Horford have good hook shots. You see Horford using his far more than Smoove, but one thing to realize is that Smoove is rarely positioned in the post. Somebody has already said something about Woody not really having defined roles in the offense. At times we’re seeing Josh just hanging around the perimeter for some odd reason when he is probably the best rebounder we have on the team you’d figure that he would stay in the post more.

I also agree that he has to at least develop a mid-range jumper at least. If only he had Horford’s mid range jumper. Add that plus a hook shot, and rarely that quick spin move he uses for a finger roll to the basket and he would be as dangerous in the post on the offensive end as he is on the defensive end.

As far as JJ goes….I actually like this new JJ – the one that is playing with a bit of anger…like an assasin or something. I want to see Joe drive to the hole more and throw it down like he did the other night. I think we’re finally starting to see JJ a little angry about the no show of respect that he gets from around the league. He’s starting to let the refs know a bit more nowadays about the no calls. I don’t believe there is an off court issue with Joe. I still see him joking around with the guys like last year, it’s just that he’s starting to show a little bit more emotion now while playing the game and he’s also starting to use it which I think makes him as dangerous as other super stars around the league.

MannyT

January 5th, 2009
10:45 pm

Da Real Real

I think that JJ swagger came from hanging around Mike Bibby. Josh & Mike seem to play with a chip on their shoulders. Because Josh was younger, it did not come off the same way as it does with Bibby. That is the intangible that I like best about Bibby. You might be a little faster and stronger than he is, but he has the confidence that makes you think he will find a way to make a difference.

jhan

Isn’t that the fan value of Josh (& Brett Favre.) You don’t know what you will get out of them, but it will be exciting. Almost NASCAR-like. It is a daring pass or a fantastic wreck. Either way, you pay attention when they play because you know something interesting will happen…good or bad.

BWAF

Mike is back

January 5th, 2009
11:22 pm

I think working on his handle would provide an immediate impact on his game, it could potentially eliminate 50% of his turnovers. He has the quickest explosion to rack on the squad except for Acie. With improved ball handling Smoove will be unstoppable going to the rack.

I agree with Doc, I think Smoove will always drive us crazy because of his pageant for the spectacular play. He definitely has a flair for the dramatic. That’s why they call him the highlight reel, and that what makes him special…he is not afraid to try, and he not afraid to fell. Plus he atones for his mistake by hustling his Assss Offffffff!!!!

He can be an Enigma on one play and a Super Heroe on the next. One thing for sure, I’m glad he is still an Atlanta Hawks. I think more than anything Smoove is benefiting from the new commitment by the Hawks to get the ball in the post.

I would also like to see to Smoove add some more bulk to his frame for the rigors of banging in the post.

jhan

January 6th, 2009
12:25 am

Manny T,

I would much rather watch a game when Josh is playing. The guy does incredible things every time he plays.

I’m glad he’s ours for the next 5 years.

HB Ando

January 6th, 2009
1:01 am

Maybe it’s my contrarian nature, but I find myself at contretemps with many of the comments here. Lacking a more refined way to approach it, I’m going to just start at the top, and speak my mind:

doc, the idea that Josh is “more of a student of the game” directly contradicts the statement his “innate abilities” lead to his “very rarified level” of play. He’s a savant, pure and simple. Instincts and athleticism are the antithesis of floor analysis. His defensive stats are the byproduct of the former, not the latter.

Najeh, yes. A low-post game, and a consistent outside shot make Smith a Hall-of-Famer. But if he doesn’t develop those things, he’s still incredibly valuable, not unlike either Marion or AK47, neither of whom have ever improved in their similar areas of limitation. He’s just now at the age that Jermaine O’Neal first became a force. The fact that the team (read: Woody) continues to pass him the ball out on the perimeter, despite his ongoing limitations from that distance, is not his fault. And it is positive that he’s continued to limit his attempts from that range, over the last 12 months (starting about 15 games into last season). As far as giving the ball up on the break, Smith continues to accumulate assists at a rate that exceeds most PF’s in the league, highlighting a natural court vision. We hope that decision making improves with age, but it never really did with guys like Antoine Walker, despite his solid assist numbers.

G Money: how much better, realistically, can the handle of a 6′9, 240 lb forward become? I have no reason to believe he hasn’t been working on it every time he takes the floor. From what I’m hearing, collectively here, Smoove should develop the low-post game of Amare, the long-range touch of Michael Redd, and the handle of Magic (since we’re talking about 6′9).

I would say that we should expect subtle improvements in all areas of his game, given his age. But we’re not be realistic, or fair to Josh Smith, if we’re seriously expecting him to develop an unstoppable low-post game, a JJ-esque outside shot, and guard-like handle. I mean if he did everything you guys want, would he be, essentially, Lebron James?

And speaking of JJ, how can anybody seriously critique his production, and value, for this team? So he doesn’t talk trash, or do funky dances. Used to be that his type of style was the definition of a pro’s pro.

If it wasn’t for his combination of scoring and play-making ability, Mike Bibby wouldn’t be having a career-resurrecting season (well, that and the not-surprising fact that it’s a contract year).

How does anyone find fault with a guy that’s (as Manny pointed out) leading the league in minutes, averaging 23 ppg, 6 dimes and 5 boards, while his team has the best franchise record in over a decade? Over the last five games JJ is averaging 8.6 (8.6!!!!) dimes a game! From the TWO!!!!!!!

Shimmy shake? Really?

Da Real Real: Gotta disagree, though I think I understand what you’re saying. Watching Josh try and score on the block is painful. And knowing how athletic he is, and how long he is, it jumps out at you that, surely, he’s got more low-post game than he’s showing. But, so far, not so much. I can’t explain, or even understand, how he hasn’t been able to develop a couple of go-to moves down there. But game after game, it’s pretty clear he hasn’t. I honestly cannot figure out how he still lacks a Al Harrington/ Rasheed Wallace/”insert name of any solid big man in the league” turn-and-fade. And maybe I’m putting the cart before the horse, since that shot is a little more challenging than a drop-step, jump hook.

But, again, given his X-factor status, for this team, both on defense, and in transition, I think we’re still splitting hairs on a 22-23 year old.

Finally, Mike is Back: you want Josh to improve his handle, AND add bulk to his 6′9, 240 lb frame. Make up your mind, bro. He can’t, simultaneously, become Karl Malone AND Magic Johnson (pre-AIDS).

I think folks (or more likely, Josh and the Hawks) are going to have to pick a point of emphasis for his improvement. He either needs to become a versatile forward, with an emerging low-post game, or a versatile forward with a dangerously consistent outside stroke. Combined with is other-worldly athleticism, either one would transcend him to the level of superstar. But expecting both is unrealistic and unfair.

Ariose

January 6th, 2009
1:59 am

First of all, Congratz on the new spot Ray and Ando.

Now I know smoove works hardand although I too hold my breath when he takes a shot. It’s not because I don’t want him shooting it. It is because I want him to prove the doubters wrong. He was won his fair share of games with his outside shot in the waining minutes of a game on a number of occasions. Sometimes he’d done it early, like when Cleveland came to town and his shot was on early.

Like Doris Burke of ESPN said during last seasons playoff series’: “Once he develops his jump shot a little more, forget about it! He won’t be stopped.”

I personally have no problem with him shooting them. You cannot succeed without failure, and Smoove is one heck of a ball player. Once Mark Price has him for a whole off-season up at his shoting clinic at the Suwanee Sports Academy we’ll all be witneses lol.

Smoves post-Game needssome polishing up though. But we’re all just being nit picky. Smoove is a Force I know he will continue to improve his game, but i’m certainly not dissatisfied with his current skill level.

*~Sir Links A Lot~*

G Money

January 6th, 2009
8:39 am

Ariose,
You’re right about being nit-picky. Again, as I said before, if we were as nit-picky about everyone else’s game, we’d find a lot more to nit-pick about.

Ando,
I agree with you that we can’t have everything (maybe). I myself feel that Josh wants to have a game that is more suited to be like that of Magic. He finds himself with the rebound or steal and wants to lead the break (instead of passing); he likes finding the open man; and while he fails miserably sometimes, tries to make the almost impossible pass inside. He doesn’t seem to relish banging inside although he does when necessary rather preferring to linger a bit outside the 7-8 foot mark and use his quickness to get to the ball/space/defensive spot. That’s just what I see from my seat.

As for bulking up, I’m not seeing that for a few years (as it comes naturally). Tomorrow will be interesting…let’s see…Rashard Lewis. oh yes, 6-10 and averages 20 pts and 6 boards with a salary of $16K annually. I’ll take JSmoove/Smash for $10K annually, 15pts and 7 boards a game (and top ten in bpg once he plays enough games).

JM

January 6th, 2009
10:01 am

G Money, you are on point with Smoove wanting to be more of a Magic type player than a banging PF. Which leads to what many on SS blog have been saying since last year. If and when the Hawks get a legit center, Josh would be better suit for the 3 with Al at the 4. Therefore, he should continue to work on the shot and ball handling and add a couple post moves for gravy.

fudd21

January 6th, 2009
1:13 pm

Ariose, well let him shoot them once he has spent that summer with Price. I personally don’t believe Josh will ever be a consistent shooter whether it be from mid-range or deep. Which leads me to be against him sliding over to the 3 unless a shooting center is brought in. (Yes I know that has been beaten to death, sorry)
The handles, yes everyone probably could improve their handles. But Josh needs to realize that he doesn’t have to cross-over, go behind the back, spin or any of that to get to the hole. He can simple beat other 4’s with his quick first step and go straight to the hole.
The stop on the dime pull up jumper. His shot is too long for that. If you notice Josh has like a wind up to his shot. You can’t do that when you’re trying to stop on a dime and elevate. His shot would have to be totally revamped for that.

one66soul

January 6th, 2009
2:36 pm

If he wants longevity in this league, he better become a dominate post player with a decent 12-15 ft jumper. Once the hops go away along with the speed we are looking at a low budget chris webber on his last leg.

Darrin "The Vent King"

January 6th, 2009
2:37 pm

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As much as I like JSmoove’s game, you’re dead on about him needing to improve his post-game and for all the applause about Marvin Williams; he needs to do the same. I still see Marvin trucking over people down-low drawing numerous charging fouls with some of the worst foot work I’ve ever seen down low. Neither of these guys seem to have any rhythm or any reliable consistent post moves in this regard. True, Marvin has improved other aspects of his game and he and Smoove’s effort is always there, but for this team to take it to the next level they need to improve their post game moves/footwork or get a guy that can do that. I think they’re still young and can improve over time, but right now they are not there. Having said that, I hope they do. As far as the backcourt, I do not believe Bibby gets enough credit for the affect he has had on this team. When you think of all those dreadful years of finishing dead last, it was the point guard position that was THE worst and that’s saying a lot for this team where holes were everywhere. Now we have a legit point and look where this team has gone since- a incredibly exciting playoff berth and this year a better than usual record this far into the season where at least we are beating teams we are supposed to and putting fear in others. Joe Johnson on the other hand is who is – a guy that carries this team more than a lot of guards in the league carries their teams more often than not. I’m not seeing the moodiness and detachment that another blog claims, just a guy with a overly quiet personality and guys like that always get accused of such things. His personality aside, where would this team be without him? As the season goes on we’ll see what these guys are all made of together when it counts and then we’ll also see if Woody is the guy to lead them. Something I’m still, despite the record, skeptical of. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong cause sometimes I don’t believe he he is.

And btw, what is up with Speedy Claxton? I last heard him having a hamstring injury in the pre-season and he hasn’t played ONE time since. Did his hamstring explode or what? Gheesh! I’m tired of seeing this guy in business suits every freaking game collecting checks and doing nothing for us…

Rono

January 6th, 2009
3:36 pm

Good posts most everyone. Josh is growing up and it will all come together by the end of the season – just in time for the playoffs. I just have a question about Randolph Morris. Is he still on the team? Is is hurt? Why has he not gotten more playing time. I have noticed Kwame Brown has been improving quite a bit with the time he’s getting in Detroit. IF Morris is not going to contribute, what’s the chance of us getting one of the big men from OK or Memphis during the season? Or, are we good enough the way we are now?

HOMEGROWN aka E.J.

January 6th, 2009
3:55 pm

I agree with most of what I am reading here. I think that he still needs an inside game. The jump hook or baseline move would mix everything up and give him time to develope the mid-range jumper. He makes me think of MV7 in that he can make the play that makes you say “damn” but is still unpolished in other areas. I think that you need that “wow” factor on your team; it brings excitment from the crowd, fear from the opposing team. I think it is that “what’s next?” factor that keeps teams/coaches guessing. If you can keep that and add a consistant jumper then you have a mature JSMOOTH/SMASH. “Wow”.

doc

January 6th, 2009
4:11 pm

gee, what a concept, ando speaking his mind.

i think the josh intuitive mind will continue to grow as he sees the court differently. whether you admit it or not the team is playing team d. somehow it means josh is learning to stay home more and play his position. he is educable even if it is at a different level. josh has a brain not sure mv7 did. HG that is where the comparison ends.

doc

January 6th, 2009
4:14 pm

ando, hasnt josh been doing something more than working on his innate game the last two summers? book it, he will be a complete player when he leaves the game. his numbers will be among the elite if his body holds up.

jhan

January 6th, 2009
6:01 pm

According to Rick Sund you will not see Speedy play any games this year. His season is over & they will be collecting insurance money.

doc, I’ll look you up tomorrow night at halftime.

Crush those Magic!!

The Hawksta

January 6th, 2009
11:10 pm

Ok Ando,

Maybe the shimmy is asking to much. I wasn’t serious. However, what was important in my last post was that fact that he really needs to be more demonstrative! To us there is no mistaking JJ’s abilities. However, if I’m a ref, the beauty of your moves don’t always garner my respect. You have to make me believe you are the best there is on the court. Speak to me! Tell how good your are. Make me love and envy your game. I’m a ref buddy(not really)! I make judgement calls. Sometimes you have to TESTIFY! Show me your swagger! Get my addrenaline flowing. Make me go home and watch the tape baby! If you think these things don’t matter in a game then maybe you are not paying enough attention to the psychological side of it all! Now if you don’t like the shimmy, maybe it don’t work with you. Maybe you’d be the ref that I would pat on the azz or something? Let me say this… You can be the showman and have the skill or you can just have the skill and hope to get recognized? But when I look in your eyes, I better see the answer I’m looking for or you ain’t gettin the call! Hate me… I’m the REF!!!

BA

January 7th, 2009
4:47 am

Before I even read the rest of this, nice article Ray. To answer the question- Smith is definitely going to get better (and smarter)with age.

Another underrated thing with Smith- he takes a freakin charge better than anybody on the team. With this kid- it’s absolutely worth the turnovers.

BA

January 7th, 2009
5:05 am

I’m with ‘ole HB on Johnson and the refs- it’s chemistry. Bibby and Smith, for example, are demonstrative enough (in concert with BWAF Woodson) for the whole team. I’ll take my do-it-all star with an old school attitude anyday. Who doesn’t get tired of seeing the Bean or Garnett barking endlessly at the officials, for hours on end?

If JJ takes it in the lane early and often like he has for the last month, come playoff time the foul calls will be there, pouting for them or not.

Jed

January 7th, 2009
7:56 am

Josh is clearly in a lot of pain. He may not be back to full strength this entire year, because he DOES resemble Joe in one trait: he will give his all. I agree with G Money that he is still growing as a player, and that we haven’t seen the best of him yet, because he’s not only still refining his tools, but he is also still learning to balance his head and his heart. The kid ADMITS sometimes his passion overrules his judgement. There are some 40 year olds who can’t see their own weakenesses, so I’m just gonna watch him & enjoy his growth. Do you recall another young phenom about 10 or 12 years ago who struggled with the game but has managed to hang onto his passion? He gives Josh fits every time we play them? Used to play for Minnesota. Now for Beantown. Whaddya think?

Sautee

January 7th, 2009
10:33 am

Ando,

About this (posted to doc about Josh):He’s a savant, pure and simple. Instincts and athleticism are the antithesis of floor analysis. His defensive stats are the byproduct of the former, not the latter.

I don’t think that the two things are mutually exclusive. For example, if Josh remembers that someone used an up-and-under move on him, then he’s less likely to quickly leave his feet. That remembrance would support doc’s “student of the game” stance. Of course much of defense is pure reaction and on that point I understand your position. But there’s room for learning within that reaction. I don’t think Josh will ever be considered cerebral, but I DO think he’s catching on to nuances (when to leave his man to block, when to stay). If you’ve noticed, he’s drawing a LOT more charges these days. That, to me, indicates a certain awareness on defense that he didn’t have in earlier years. Yes, he’s got phenomenal skills, but he’s THINKING better on defense. Or at least that’s the way it looks from here.

MannyT

January 7th, 2009
2:13 pm

doc & Sautee.

Very good points about Josh. He does have more basketball smarts than most people believe. He also has that emotional side that sometimes takes over…and turns on his thoughtful side. In the long run, that combination will serve him very well.

Usually a player gets the cerebral tag when his brain clearly outdoes his physical abilities. Unfortunately, they can get tagged as less bright if they have really great physical attributes like Josh. The reality is in between.

If you are short, slow or don’t jump much and keep a pro job, you get credit for your smarts. Look at Barkley (the player). I don’t think he got his due for basketball intellect, because he was dominant in many ways. People forget he played as a dominant PF and was about the same height as Mario West. It wasn’t all about strength–he understood the game better than most.

We need to beat the Magic tonight. It shows that we are a thorn in their side (like NJ is to us.)

BWAF

Sautee

January 7th, 2009
2:54 pm

Manny T,

Excellent about Barkley, and oh so true about the assumption of a lack of intellect in physically gifted players.

By the way, on Sekou’s blog, someone (Hawksta?) gave me credit for an explanation of BWAF and had me saying “Bald with Arms folded”. That was incorrect, though, and not what I said.

I have always known what the acronym was, since I was around for the original WAF, well before the BWAF. Small matter Manny, but I wanted you to know that I still have MOST of my marbles.

G Money

January 7th, 2009
3:19 pm

Sautee,
He is thinking better/playing better. He IS a student of the game. Why else would he have The Dream working with him. I think we all agree on that one. One of the things that I sometimes wonder about is who is helping him think through things. Is it Woody? Tyrone Hill?

I have a concern about our coaching staff and player development. I haven’t seen this in any of the years that Woody has been here (nor did I see it prior either). When you think about the big guys (Williams, Smoove, ZaZa, or Morris) – I am not sure that Hill can teach them what they really need to know to make more than incremental change. Perhaps we shouldn’t expect any change during the season. However, over 82 games I would expect not to see some of the same errors that I saw at the beginning of the season.

So while we discuss Josh, I think it is important to talk about how our players are assisted in their player development.

The Hawksta

January 7th, 2009
3:39 pm

Not me Sautee! That was Homegrown. I think he has it confused. I corrected him. He mentioned you as the one who told him.

Sautee

January 7th, 2009
4:35 pm

Sorry, Hawksta. I put a ? cause I’m too lazy to go back and look myself.

I didn’t remember ’cause I’ve explained that one (BWAF) to others in the past.

G Money,

I’d love to know that, too. Good question for Sekou.

richbrave

January 7th, 2009
7:01 pm

doc:

I posted you up about JAVARIS CRITTENTON on SEKOU’s last blog before the current one with some updated stats. Do you want to continue to get info?

ray:

How’s it going blogster numero uno? I’ve moved over to the WIZARDS and REDSKINS blogs. It ain’t the same baby, it ain’t the same. My second cousin is back on the sports beat for the NEWS and OBSERVER in RALEIGH. He asked for my experiences here and comparatives elsewhere. I e-mailed him an epic. Lots of love for the AJC and the folks who run the blogs here for all venues that I follow. You guys are the greatest.

Big Ray

January 7th, 2009
10:58 pm

Guys,

Thanks for all of the replies and the compliments. There has been some great comments on this blog. There will be a new one up in a few minutes…

RichBrave,

It’s good to hear from you. Things are going well. Now you KNEW the Wiz blogs couldn’t hold a candle to Sekou’s joint, my man! What’s wrong with ya? Just kidding. Stay with the home team, I understand. Just don’t forget your pals down south. Peace.