Josh Smith ready to lead Pistons to the next level

USA TODAY Sports

You can say this for the Pistons highest-paid player -- he has great respect for Detroit and craves the responsibility of leading young team to next level.

The Detroit Pistons have officially announced the signing of Josh Smithto a four-year deal, and in his first remarks since becoming a Piston, Smith talked about his excitement to be a part of a winning organization and taking the team to the playoffs this season.

"This organization is used to winning. I knew it wasn't going to take much time to turn things around," Smith said. "We can definitely be a playoff team, but we can be a contender if we work hard at it."

Listen to Josh Smith's introductory press conference

Smith joins the Pistons after spending the last nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks where he averaged 15.3 points (.465 FG%, .283 3FG%, .654 FT%), 8.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.3 steals. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Smith is the only player in NBA history to boast career averages of at least 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.

And while many DBBers are anguishing (understandably) with how Smith and young big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond can mesh offensively, both Smith and president of basketball operations Joe Dumars seemed much more intrigued and excited by the defensive possibilities.

In the very begnning, Dumars opening statement made it clear he wanted to emphasize one thing; "Josh is a 6-9, athletic forward." Emphasis mine but also sorta Joe's as well.

He keyed in on the word "forward," with the implication being in Dumars' view Smith isn't just a starting small forward or someone that should be a power forward -- he's an effective NBA forward. And while whether it can work in the real world is very much open to debate, at least to me it indicated that Dumars has no intention of trading away Greg Monroe. And that pleases me very much.

And as far as Smith, I think I can boil down his comments and apparent feelings down to three words -- happy, honored, hungry.

He was, of course, happy to sign a contract reported to be valued at $54 million, but he also clearly had honor and respect for the Pistons organization, it's "diehard" fans and its tradition of winning basketball. He also seemed hungry to be a vocal leader, and seemed more interested in raising the games of the Pistons young nucleus as opposed to his own.

"There is nothing like having young guys that are willing to listen, that want to get better, that want to take that next step," Smith said. "That was one of the most intriguing things to me. They want to get to the next level."

Several times in his answers he emphasized his ability to bring leadership and experience to the table, and also expressed that he doesn't feel like he's reached his ceiling as a player.

Dumars spent most of his brief remarks praising Smith's versatility.

"I feel like it's going to be pretty hard for teams to score on us. I think we're going to be a scary team defensively." - Josh Smith

"He has the ability to impact the game and affect the game on both ends of the floor," Dumars said. And while addressing questions of fit, Dumars focused on Smith's abilities defensively instead of any limitations he might have offensively.

In today's NBA, Dumars said, specific positions are becoming less important. And so a versatile defensive player like Smith is a necessity.

"This is a guy that can guard twos, threes, fours, and that is what the NBA is all about now," Dumars said, praising Smith specifically for taking on the challenge of guarding Kobe Bryant.

And reading between the lines a little bit, it seems that Dumars is enticed about Smith's ability to be the team's defensive stopper -- sicced on whomever on the opposing team is the biggest offensive threat.

When asked how he was going to mesh with the games of Monroe and Drummond, Smith again brought it all back to defense.

"I feel like it's going to be pretty hard for teams to score on us. I think we're going to be a scary team defensively."

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