Dallas– Ever since the All-Star reserves were announced and Smoove didn’t make it, it’s seemed everyone around him has been more outraged about it. Family, friends, fans, media–everyone seems to think Smoove got screwed, except for Smoove.
And it continued that way right up to the All-Star break. After the Hawks lost to the Heat last night, someone asked Smoove if he hoped to be picked as the replacement for A. I., who it turns out won’t play for personal reasons. Commish Stern picked Knicks center David Lee to replace him.
“My flight is booked,” Smoove said, laughing. “I’m really not even thinking about that. I am thinking about sticking my feet in the sand.”
He’s headed to the Turks and Caicos Islands in the West Indies (”First time”). Looking at the snow storm outside my hotel room here in Dallas, I’m thinking Smoove made out in that exchange.
But, for real, he probably did deserve to make the All-Star team. In the one month I’ve covered the team, one thing that has stood out is how Smoove can change a game in so many ways. He’s developed what seems like an instinctive ability to know what play the Hawks need at what time and that’s really a wild statement when you think about it.
The development hasn’t happened by accident.
“I looked a a lot of film of myself over the summer and critiqued myself,” Smoove said, and he discovered he needed to make better decisions within the flow of the game. So it’s interesting to note how Woody later summed up Smoove’s improvement: “He’s making better basketball decisions.”
That’s a hard thing to quantify sometimes. So maybe Smoove was hurt in All-Star voting by coaches because his traditional boxscore stats are nice but don’t really blow you away. But when you look at advanced statistics and Smoove usually comes out ahead in comparison to his teammates and he also looks good when stacked up against the league’s best (also note that Lee is no slouch with those metrics, either).
In considering alternatives to Iso-Joe (and I know you spend a lot of time doing that) two of the best I can think of involve Smoove.
One is the pick-and-roll with Bibby–when the timing is right on it and Smoove gets the pass close enough to the rim that he doesn’t have to dribble too much there aren’t many weakside defenders who can challenge him. (The Hawks tried the P-R early last night but Bibby messed up the spacing and it was a turnover).
The other Iso-Joe alternative is posting Smoove up on the left block for that duck-in, swooping hook move. It can be unstoppable because he’s so long and athletic and he’s gotten really good at gaining separation from his defender with a subtle bump.
Alas, a worldwide television audience and a crowd expected to be upwards of 90,000 won’t get to see Smoove do his thang. But Smoove said he won’t be wishing he was here and probably won’t even watch the game on Sunday.
“I will probably be too busy just chilling,” he said.