If Twitter followers graded NBA free-agent signings, Detroit Pistons GM Joe Dumars may need detention to pass the offseason.
Following USA Today writer Sam Amick’s report of the Pistons’ signing of free agent Josh Smith to a four-year, $56 million deal, the vast majority of the Twitter world exploded. Many expected Josh Smith to ink with the Houston Rockets upon their signing of superstar Dwight Howard, who is also a good friend of Smith from home.
Not only did he not end up on the Rockets, Smith landed on a team many, including Bleacher Report’s own Grant Hughes and several ESPN writers, considered a bad fit. Fans expressed everything from disappointment to pessimism when the news broke:
Hope the Pistons have fun with Josh Smith. He will drive the fan base nuts. Ton of talent, just not willing to listen— Will Long (@WillLong40) July 7, 2013
RIP to Josh Smith's career by joining the Pistons.— Erick Bolden (@ErickBolden35) July 7, 2013
The Pistons signing Josh Smith has upgraded them from really average to incredibly mediocre.— Tony Li (@shengerli) July 7, 2013
Through all of the negativity, it is important to note that Josh Smith is a heck of a player. Remember, this is a perennial All-NBA defender. Detroit’s defense hasn’t downgraded a bit.
Second, along with Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight, Smith helps form an uber-athletic starting lineup that will be a playmaking nightmare on the fast break. For those who forgot, J-Smoove averaged over four assists a game last season as a forward.
Paired with an improving Andre Drummond, Smith will also vastly improve Detroit’s rebounding. With all this in mind, it’s clear he can make an impact on the court without commanding offensive touches.
The key word here is can. If Smith doesn’t change his game and keeps over-shooting, especially from deep, Detroit won’t get what they paid for. They will have improved, but not by the leaps and bounds Josh brings on paper.
Here’s a way to describe the issue. The only person who doesn’t know Josh Smith can’t shoot the three-pointer consistently is Josh Smith.
This, along with a knack for turnovers, is perhaps the biggest knock on Smith. It will play a big factor in determining Detroit’s offensive success and ultimately their playoff chances. As of now, signs point to him not changing his playing style, which is a problem.
How many games will Detroit win this year?
Nonetheless, the Pistons’ roster is far from finished. Smith’s signing still leaves Detroit with about $8 million in cap space, good for another quality player or two solid contributors.
Being in the market for a point guard, they have a lot of options to get someone who can help the team mesh. Of the free-agent floor generals still available, Mo Williams and Smith’s former teammate Jeff Teague are worth looking at. Both can dish the rock, score when the main options aren’t shooting well and lead a team.
If Detroit can acquire one of those two, they have to be considered for one of the last two, maybe three playoff seeds in the Eastern Conference. Detroit has good reason to expect to make next year’s postseason, but don’t be surprised if it all goes wrong in the same mold of the Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva signings of 2009. Only time will tell.