When looking at Josh Smith and his potential impact on the Pistons, I thought it best to look at what he will provide from a team perspective. We are gonna look at what he brings and how the projected new starting lineup will perform together. As it stands right now it is looking like Drummond, Monroe, Smith, Pope, and Knight. The key stats we are going to be looking at are rebounds(total and differential), assists, steals, and blocks, all from the team perspective. Top ten teams in these categories combined made the playoffs last year 42 out of 50 for 84%. Of the teams who appeared on 2 separate lists, only Dallas and Utah missed the playoffs, and any team on 3+ lists all made the playoffs.
League Leader: Indiana 45.9
10th place: Brooklyn: 42.8
Detroit: 42.1, 13th overall
This is a spot that Detroit should do well in. They were already in the top half of the league here with their best rebounder only playing ~20 min/gm in Drummond. The addition of Smith at SF, while only average at PF, should provide a significant boost over the Prince/Singler combination form last year who averaged 4.2 reb/gm. Smith alone should provide enough of a boost to put Detroit in the top ten, having a career average of 8.0 reb/gm. Even if we downgrade him at SF, he should still provide a 1-2 reb/gm advantage over the previous year's SF's.
League Leader: Indiana +5.0
10th Place: Chcago +2.1
Detroit: +0.3, 13th place
This is again going to be similar to total rebounds. Smith and Drummond are going to make a big impact on the percentage of rebounds that Detroit gets. The starter's for Detroit should all be well above average rebounding for their position, if not elite. The stats may not bear this out in total rebounds as there are only so many to go around. Detroit should again have no trouble getting into the top 10 in the league here.
League Leader: San Antonio 25.1
10th Place: Boston 22.8
Detroit: 21.2, 22nd place.(20.6 pre Calderon, 22.5 post Calderon)
There is a fine line here between being a top 10 team and being a bottom 10 team. Before the Calderon trade Detroit's starter's averaged ~11.7 apg, post trade we have 15.4 apg. In recent years Smith has averaged ~4.0 apg. If we add in KCP(2.0 apg), Drummond(1.0) apg), and Monroe(4.0 apg) we get 11 apg already. If we can get 4 assists from Knight we are at 15.7 apg, already higher than with Jose. If the bench is still at ~7 apg, we are already looking at a top 10 team at 22.7 apg. If either the bench or Knight can provide an additional 2 apg they are looking at 24.7 apg, which would have been good for 2nd in the NBA.
League Leader: LA Clippers 9.6
10th Place: Houston / OKC 8.3
Detroit: 7.0, 25th place
The SF spot last year provided ~0.6 spg. Smith career average is 1.3, good for a 0.7 increase already. If we add in Drummond over Maxiell for an additional ~1.0 increase, we are already at 8.7 spg. If Pope can muster an additional +0.5, Detroit is looking at an increase of 2.2 spg for 9.2 spg total which is good for 3rd overall.
League Leader: OKC 7.6
10th Place: SA / Miami 5.4
Detroit: 4.9, 16th place.
This is the easy one. Smith is a career 2.1 bpg player. Even if Drummond doesn't provide any additional shot blocking, the ~1.9 additional blocks from Smith would put Detroit at 6.8bpg, good for 2nd in the NBA. With Drummond playing more this year and the addition of Smith, Detroit has a very good chance of leading the league in this stat.
After looking through all these team stats and rankings, I think it i very possible for Detroit to be in the top 10 in at least 3 or 4 of these categories. It looks like the assists may be the only stat here that isn't a sure thing. Smith's ability to stuff the stat box and the correlation to those stats leading to the playoff's, may be a big reason as to why Atlanta has made the playoffs in recent years, although he never had as much support on most of these categories as he is likely to get in Detroit. If he can impact the game in these ways, it appears to be much more likely than not for Detroit to make its first playoff's in four years.