While the Dwight Howard soap opera has certainly been the center of attention this season, it’s Josh Smith that is no stranger to trade rumors. He routinely gets his name thrown in around the NBA’s trade deadline, and this season is no different.
Orlando has their hearts set on keeping Howard in the Magic Kingdom long-term, and perhaps adding Smith is the answer. Smith is a viable star that could help elevate Orlando making their first NBA finals appearance since 2009.
A Smith/Howard tandem would give the Magic arguably the most athletically gifted front courts in the league. Josh Smith is a gargantuan threat in the low post with his size and physicality, and the lefty seemingly complements the right-handed Howard like Tim Duncan did David Robinson.
One could even say Smith is the more gifted offensive player of the two, as he is a superb ball handler at 6’9’’. And though he lacks a reliable jump shot, Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy tends to avoid the mid-range game completely in his offense.
Defensively, both Smith and Howard are two of the best low post defenders in the NBA. Smith is a premier shot-blocker, excellent at playing through screens and shadowing the pick-and-roll as well as having the strength to effectively press out on opposing big men from backing him down around the rim.
Put Smith with Dwight Howard, the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year for the past two seasons, and try to score a cheap lay-up in the paint. Teams around the league would always have a Smith and/or Dwight Howard highlight rejection engraved into the back of their heads.
The only obstacle in the way of enticing the Hawks to deal their All-Star forward to Orlando is their lack of trade chips. Orlando could build a deal with sharpshooting forward Ryan Anderson as the centerpiece, or find another team to send enough talent back to Atlanta in exchange for Smith.
Smith has reportedly made it clear that he wants out of Atlanta, citing that he wants to play for a team that is more committed to winning a championship. If Howard truly has his mind set on returning to the Finals, pairing with Smith must intrigue him.
As the deadline fast approaches, we’ll see what happens with Dwight Howard. If the Magic are truly intent on keeping him, making a move for Smith certainly won’t hurt their odds.
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