Josh Smith: SF vs PF

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a recent comment thread, revken provided a good breakdown of Josh Smith's stats at SF and PF for one game. I've decided to pick up where he left off and look at the entire season. This is the sort of thing that happens when the Pistons don't play all week.

First, I plotted out all Smith's shot attempts by distance at the forward position. I excluded data from the small ball lineups where Smith essentially played center.

2P Shot Chart

His shooting percentage starts to drop off at 6', so for the shot charts I used shooting ranges of 0-5', 6'-11', 12'-17', 18'-23', and 3P. The colors have no significance

SF Shot ChartPF Shot Chart

And the shot distribution charts show minimal change in shot selection while at the PF position...

SF Shot DistributionPF Shot Distribution

But we know what he's capable of based on the Portland game. While playing 30.1 minutes at SF and 15.4 at the PF, Smith had 14 shots inside of 8 feet, one 16 footer, and 2 threes.

Portland Shot Distribution

Here's the rest of the stats that Josh frequently stuffs on a per 36 basis...

SF/36 5.7 14.7 0.39 0.9 4.0 0.23 1.7 2.7 0.9 4.5 5.4 3.5 1.5 1.2 2.6 2.4 14.0
PF/36 7.3 16.9 0.43 1.1 3.7 0.30 3.2 5.7 2.5 7.4 9.9 3.4 1.9 2.1 2.5 2.6 18.9

I wondered if there was any correlation (which I hear isn't the same thing as causation) between position played most often and wins or losses. Well here's the answer...

MPG For Wins and Losses

Pretty much the same. The lower minutes played in losses could be attributed to being sat during blowout games. The quarter where Smith plays the most PF is the 4th, so sitting at the end of games will affect the PF minutes slightly more as well. What I did find interesting is that in the last two games, Smith is averaging 12.8 minutes at SF and 23.9 at PF. It's reversed! Maybe there is something to Cheeks' recent statement about preferring Josh at PF. So I decided to examine the trend of SF playing time vs. PF playing time throughout the season. It appears to be trending toward more of a balance between positions and that the Philly game is an outlier...

SF & PF MPG Trend

In conclusion, will giving Smith more time at PF be the right move? You be the judge. And that's all I have to say about that.

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