Detroit Pistons: What Josh Smith Must Do to be a Successful Small Forward

By Ryan Heckman
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013-2014 season has potential to be the best season in nearly a decade for the Detroit Pistons. Throughout the offseason, they have added a couple of talented players in former Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings and former Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith.

Also, Detroit drafted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the first round of this year’s draft who figures to be a contributor specifically on offense.

Let’s take some time to focus on Smith. In Atlanta, he showed promise year after year to be one of the best all-around players in the NBA. It seemed that he just simply could not put it all together, although still put up some solid stat lines throughout his career with the Hawks.

Posting career averages of over 15 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game Smith solidified himself as a great defender around the rim. He’s one of the best rebounders on the court each and every time he’s out there, not to mention a very tough guy to score on.

Where it has typically gone wrong for Smith is on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, he shoots the ball at about 46 percent for his career — a great percentage — and last season averaged almost 18 points per game. But, Smith hasn’t even hit his ceiling yet because of his inability to nail down his shot selection.

Playing small forward in Detroit will give him the ability to do what he can do best on offense, and that is get to the hoop and finish. Being such a big body with great athleticism and leaping ability, Smith has to take the ball to the basket more often than not. Too many times in Atlanta, Smith would force a few bad shots. Some of them occasionally would go in, but for the most part the Hawks did not like to see that kind of play.

If Smith can play a lot smarter on offense and use his specific strengths to his advantage, there’s no reason he couldn’t be an All Star in his first season with the Pistons. He has all the ability in the world to be an elite player, but mentally needs to make sure he is doing everything he can to reach his potential.

Playing more like a slashing small forward rather than a shooting guard will go a long way for Smith. Now, it’s just a matter of doing it. Can he finally realize his potential as an all-around player in 2013?

Ryan Heckman is a Senior Writer for RantSports.comFollow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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