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Josh Smith 'understands' to shoot fewer threes, but should he?

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Is Josh Smith's long ball the lesser of two evils?

"Don't leave me open fools!"
"Don't leave me open fools!"
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

It was a fairly common problem last season, Jennings dribbling up the court and passing to Smith early in the clock.  Smith would then throw a couple of fakes up before conjuring the inevitable, mid-shot clock, wide-open-for-a-reason 3-pointer.  However, Van Gundy knows that Smith is better served nowhere near the long line, and has even told Smith likewise.

Per Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press:

He's one of the elite guys in the league around the basket. Last year, stuff inside, right at the rim, in two straight years, he has been 71% and 77%. There's very few guys at that level. So he needs to get more of those. He knows that. He also understands he really doesn't need to shoot threes for this team.

The problem is believing this.  Smith shot 64 more threes last season than his final season in Atlanta, yet only made nine more (61-201 compared to 70-265), and his percentage dropped from .303 to .264.  However, this may be the lesser ot two evils.  Smith is also a known proponent of the most inefficient shot in basketball, the long two.  Last season, 23% of his shots were between 16 feet and the 3-point line, compared to 21.5% of his shots being behind the line (per Basketball Reference).  However, he only shot .360 from the long-two zone, compared to .264 from three.  Therefore, if he were to take 100 shots from each spot on those current percentages, he'd score 72 points from the mid-range, compared to just over 79 points from three.

Therefore, despite his worse percentage from three than mid-range, he is actually more efficient from three than mid-range, so maybe Van Gundy should be cutting out the long two before the three-ball.  In no way am I advocating Josh Smith be at the 3-Point Shootout this season at All-Star weekend, but his long ball is the lesser of two evils.