Houston Rockets' Greg Smith Is Currently the Best Deep Reserve Player in the NBA

Nick Farnsworth@@nfarnswAnalyst IDecember 23, 2012

Dec 22, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Greg Smith (4) dunks against the Memphis Grizzlies in the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Grizzlies 121-96. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are making headlines in the NBA with the new-look Rockets, but there is another player that is providing Houston the most impressive performances in the league in short minutes this season.

After spending a year in the NBA D-League playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Greg Smith has found his way onto the Rockets roster and has been taking advantage of every minute he has spent on the court this year. 

An analysis of players' statistics, compiled from Basketball Reference, who have averaged between eight and 18 minutes in at least 15 games this season showed that Smith has put together more impressive performances than any other reserve player that fits into this category.

According to ESPN, Smith is averaging 7.2 points on a ridiculous 63.1 percent from the field, 4.3 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, and 0.4 assists while giving up the ball on only .4 turnovers in 14.2 minutes a game. In addition, Smith is hitting on 75.5 percent of his free throws, which has greatly improved from the 56.6 percentage that, as reported by Yahoo Sports, he posted at Fresno State. 

One of the most overlooked aspects of a successful team is the reserve players that can produce at a high level for the few minutes that they are in the game that often are the key to winning games. Smith is taking this to another level for the Houston Rockets, providing one of the most efficient offensive performances of any Rockets player every game.

In fact according to ESPN, Smith is even posting a ridiculous 23.28 player efficiency rating, which is better than Dwight Howard (20.85), Tyson Chandler (22.48) and Al Jefferson (20.34) have put together so far this season.

Although Smith still has the occasional game that an inexperienced player is expected to have, he is becoming quite consistent with strong performances on both sides of the floor through his strong effort to crash the boards and push for every possession. The 21-year-old undrafted big man has done a great job of developing his game and taking advantage of every opportunity in front of him to contribute to his team's success. 

He has continued to produce strong performances against the best teams in the NBA, and there is no reason that he couldn't continue this trend for the rest of the year. Smith may find his playing time increase as the season goes on, but for now he is the most productive player on the court for less than 18 minutes a game in the NBA. 

Houston has found a talented and hard-working player in Greg Smith that will likely continue to provide a much-needed spark off the bench and contribute to their success the rest of the season.