The Detroit Pistons landed one of the biggest names in the 2013 NBA Free Agency pool when they signed forward Josh Smith to a four-year, $54 million contract. Many people have raved about Smith’s ability, but have thought that, perhaps, he just needed a change of scenery after spending nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.
At just 27 years old, Smith is about to enter the prime of his career and could find new life with the Pistons. However, after Detroit shelled out a good chunk of change for Smith, it feels like we’ve been here befor with the Pistons. If you look closely, this feels a lot like the signing of Charlie Villanueva in the summer of 2009, when Villanueva signed a five-year, $37.7 million deal that people now consider one of the most overpaying deals in the league.
This comparison was first brought about on the CBS Eye on Basketball podcast by Matt Moore and Zach Harper and they couldn’t be more correct at how similar the two players’ numbers are before they signed their deal with Detroit.
In the 2008-2009 season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Villanueva averaged 21.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.9 steals and one block per 36 minutes while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from three-point range. That season he finished with a PER of 18.6 and was worth 4.9 win shares.
Last season with the Hawks Smith averaged 17.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes on 46.5 percent shooting and 30.3 percent shooting from long-range. He finished with a 17.7 PER and finished with 4.2 total win shares.
The main difference between Smith and Villanueva is that Smith’s greatest asset is his value on the defensive end of the floor while Villanueva’s was on the offensive end of the floor. However, the numbers that they put up before signing with Detroit are strikingly similar.
This isn’t to say that Smith won’t work out with the Pistons. There’s no denying his defensive ability and his potential as a versatile offensive player (if he were to fall out of love with his jump shot). However, this is a word of caution to the Pistons and their fans. This organization has been down this road before with a free-agent and it did/has not ended well. Hopefully that won’t be the case this time around.