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Daily Babble: Hoopinion Scouts Josh Smith

Earlier this week, we pleaded for more from Hoopinion 's Bret Lagree on Atlanta's Josh Smith, a player he covers regularly.  Today, our wishes are granted, via email from Bret:

Josh Smith is ridiculously talented but demonstrates only an intermittent understanding of those talents. I think (and I believe most serious Hawks fans share this opinion) that his lack of development in utilizing his skills has a lot to do with the coaching staff he's played with. Watching this team regularly makes you wonder if the coaching staff is watching as closely as you are.

Smith has a decent post-up game, but plays are rarely called for him in the post which allows him to drift to the perimeter and be in a position to shoot extremely low-percentage jump shots. As his shooting form doesn't appear to have an obvious, fundamental flaw (he's not a horrible free throw shooter) I don't expect him ever to make great strides as a jump shooter.

Not the he has to to improve his offensive game. In addition to his under-utilized post-up game, he's very dangerous catching the ball in the high post when, as is the case most often now, guarded by the opposing 4. Even conceding the jumper to Smith, defenders have trouble keeping him from getting to the basket. He's not a great dribbler. I'd put his handle on the very low, Tony Allen-end of the scale, though Smith has less of a propensity to dribble the ball off of his own body. His hand never seems to hit the ball squarely. Because of Smith's long arms, good hands, and athleticism this is less of a problem for him than for his defender. If Smith doesn't really know what path his dribble will take him to the basket, how could a defender anticipate?

Smith is a good passer overall, though lazy at times when simply reversing the ball. As with any Hawks player, their offensive efficiency should be considered with the caveat that they play without a good point guard and get very few easy shots presented to them.

Defensively, Mike Woodson appears to understand Smith's limitations and keeps him away from guys who would post him up and prevent him from being a help-side shot blocker. Early in the season, Smith was willing to forgo the team defensive concept to gamble for steals. This tendency has manifested itself far less frequently and is a big reason for the Hawks' defensive improvement as the season has progressed.

Much thanks to Bret for taking the time to elaborate on his points from earlier in the week.  Ultimately, timing couldn't be better, as I'm running out to catch what should be an enjoyable Nets-Knicks fiasco on my first day back at home in The State.  Full coverage with a Babblings column promised for tomorrow.

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