The Pistons have been linked to Hawks forward Josh Smith and Bobcats shooting guard Gerald Henderson; both are expected to be offseason targets of the Pistons, especially with so much cap space to play with.
While Kyler mentions that the Pistons are interested in Gerald Henderson as well, the player that will generate the most discussion is Smith.
Smith, 27, is a great and extremely talented player. Yet the question remains: Is he a player that deserves a maximum contract?
According to Jeff Schultz at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smith feels that he is:
“I feel like I’m a max player,” Smith said Friday.
And yes, that is the first time he has said that.
“I feel I bring a lot to the table. I have a lot of versatility. For what I do and what I give this ball club, I feel like I’m worth it.”
Just like that, Smith made sure to let the NBA know how high he values himself.
Despite Smith's talent, he would most likely play small forward on the Pistons instead of his stronger position—power forward—due to the presence of Greg Monroe.
Smith has had great success at power forward, but hasn't enjoyed as much at small forward. One of Smith's biggest weaknesses is his shooting from outside the paint. For being a big man, he occasionally drifts outside while playing the four spot. His career shooting percentage is .464 and he's not a great outside shooter, which the Pistons sorely need in order to have the ability to stretch the defense.
The one thing that Smith does exceptionally well is playing defense. He can change the game defensively and led the league last season in defensive win shares (DWS) with a 4.9. Unfortunately, this season he's trailed off a little bit with a DWS of only 2.9. Smith is still averaging 8.6 rebounds this season, which is above his career average of 8.0.
If the Pistons do sign Smith after the season and he plays small forward, they'd be moving him away from the basket and taking away his athleticism in the paint—one of the main reasons teams want him in the first place.
While the debate about Smith playing small forward vs. power forward can continue for a while, the No. 1 reason why the Pistons should sign him is because of Monroe.
Monroe is currently playing center for the Pistons, but his long-term future is going to be at power forward next to rookie center Andre Drummond. Brendan Savage from MLive.com posted some comments from fans in early January saying that the Pistons need to trade Monroe based on speculation that he and Drummond won't mesh on the court.
I believe this is way too early to give up on a young 22-year-old big man who has only played two-and-a-half years in the NBA. The time might come in the future when Monroe and Drummond do not work out, but now is not the time. Monroe has been very consistent and is averaging 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds for the season. His potential has no ceiling and is one of the main reasons why the Pistons are so exciting to watch.
The Pistons are very fortunate to have not one, but two potential star big men and they should attempt to make it work before trying to trade Monroe or Drummond.
I have no doubt that Smith will help a team contend next year. But with the Pistons, he would be out of position and could actually weaken the team by playing at small forward.
*Statistics are as of Feb. 12
**All statistics are from basketball-reference.com
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