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Sports Illustrated recognizes Josh Smith – but not in a good way

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Ben Golliver of SI.com has picked the Pistons’ Josh Smith as the small forward on his Eastern Conference ‘All-Letdown Team.’

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Josh Smith has never made an All-Star team, but he recently received special recognition of the wrong kind from Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated. In a post dated Dec. 4, 2013, Golliver chose Smith as one of five Eastern Conference players who have been a disappointment in the early going of the 2013-14 NBA season. Since the East itself is doing poorly (only Indiana and Miami currently sport a winning record), SI.com has concluded that the main culprits in these losing ways should be called out.

Leading the way for the ‘All-Letdown Team’ is point guard Kyrie Irving of Cleveland. (On a positive note, I am thrilled that Brandon Jennings did not make this team!) He is joined in the back court by New York’s J.R. Smith. At power forward the dubious honor goes to Brooklyn’s aging All-Star Kevin Garnett, and the center is Larry Sanders of Milwaukee.

Of special interest to Pistons’ fans is Golliver’s description of Smith’s play as being “as frustrating as ever.” He writes:

The fit at small forward was questioned from the start, but Smith’s response to the role is bordering on self-parody. Long admonished for his poor shot selection, Smith is attempting a career-high 4.6 threes while connecting on just 27.7 percent. That’s led to career worsts in field-goal percentage (40.2) and true shooting percentage (46.1). Smith also has the lowest PER (a below-average 13.7) and offensive rating of his career, and his 14.2-point scoring average is his lowest since 2005-06.

Golliver includes a chart of selected three-point shooters which compares their attempts to their percentages. Not surprisingly, Smith is the least accurate of those who take more than 4.5 threes per game (though Irving is not doing much better). So Golliver concludes:

As you can see, such prolific shooting opportunities are available to the truly adept and the truly delusional. There is no excuse or explanation for Smith’s placement in this group, as he’s never shot better than 33.1 percent from deep in a season. Watching an otherwise-talented player defined by his inability to control his greatest vice — or his submission to said vice — is the mark of a true letdown.

Golliver admits that he did not like the Smith signing back in July, giving it a grade of ‘D.’ In a post dated July 7, 2013, he wrote:

In Detroit, Smith adds a veteran bent to a talented front line that includes 23-year-old Greg Monroe and 19-year-old Andre Drummond. How those three will fit together is unclear. If all three start, that pushes Smith to the small-forward position, where his shaky perimeter shooting will stick out like a sore thumb.

None of these comments about Smith are news to visitors on this site, though not everyone agrees with such dismal assessments of his play or his role in Detroit. Since the Pistons are currently 9-10 (an improvement from last season’s 6-13 at this point), fans and pundits can debate whether Smith has helped the team or held them back.

So why don’t we do the democratic thing and vote on it?