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Smith has taken up a huge scoring burden and done well, but the team might be better off with more balance.
Smith has been the Blue Devils' best player all season long and is a strong candidate for Player of the Year. Intangibly, he makes everyone on the court better, empowers and engenders confidence in younger teammates and owns the huddle at all times.
Tangibly, he's having a hallmark year with 21 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game this season. He's been consistent, scoring at least 16 points in all but two games, while shooting a career high 48 percent, fantastic for a guard, in a ton of minutes (33.4 per game).
So what can you possibly nitpick about Smith's game, you ask? He's started to take too many shots.
In the first 13 games of the season, Smith took between seven and 16 shots per game, which is a pretty consistent window. In those games, Smith shot a blistering 50.6 percent from the field on 154 attempts. That percentage includes Smith's 0-for-8 game against Bradley on December 8.
Even before the two losses, Duke suddenly started relying on Smith a little too much. The shift occurred on January 5, when the probable lottery pick took a season high 22 shots. Since that game, he hasn't taken less than 16 shots per game and is shooting just 42.4 percent. In those nine games, Smith has taken 18 more shots combined than he did in the first 13 games, with a significant decrease in converted shots.
Inconsequentially, Duke lost two of those games as it stood by content with Smith taking too many. Duke is at its best when the shots are being taken from different guys all over the court. They become easier to guard when Smith takes too many shots, and they lose their dangerous edge when the ball is taken away from the wide open shooters on the perimeter.
For Duke to be successful, Smith needs to be right around those 15 shots a game instead of his recent stretch of 19 per game.