Hawks Improve Frontcourt Depth With Joe Smith

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
By Micah Hart

The Hawks continued to fill out their roster for the upcoming season, as today the team agreed to terms with veteran big man Joe Smith. Frankly, I can’t think of a better fit for this team going into the season.

We know frontcourt depth is a priority, and yet we also know that with Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Zaza Pachulia in the fold, there aren’t a ton of leftover minutes laying around. That being the case, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone willing to take on a back-up role who brings all the things to the table that Joe Smith does. Namely:

He can shoot. Joe Smith is a reliable perimeter shooter, which is something the Hawks have been missing in the frontcourt for awhile now. That’s not meant as a slight against the returning players, but I think we can all agree that Al, Josh, and Zaza all do their best work close to the basket. Joe can do work down low as well, but I think Coach Woodson will enjoy having him at his disposal for his pick-and-pop capabilities.

He knows his role. One thing Rick Sund talks about in discussing the success of last year was the Hawks’ roster being more accepting of their roles than in the past. With minutes scarce, you want to know that anyone you bring in isn’t going to start chafing about playing time and potentially cause chemistry issues in the locker room. Joe Smith knows that at this stage in his career he is not going to be asked to log 30+ minutes every night, and at the risk of speaking for him, I daresay I think he’s ok with that.

He’s versatile. Hey, you can’t be a Hawk if you can’t play multiple positions, right? At 6-10, Smith is capable of filling in at both the center and power forward spots, and I imagine he’ll end up having to play some of both as the season progresses. You’d love to think that everyone on the team will be available for 82 games, but it’s unlikely. Injuries aside, Joe will fit right in with the Hawks big men and allow Coach Woodson to consider a multitude of frontcourt combinations.

He’s a veteran. Though the Hawks have been to the postseason the past two years, they still have a bit of the reputation of youth – that is to say, their confidence seems to wax and wane at times during the season and they struggle to maintain intensity. Joe Smith has been in the league 14 years, and he’s played on some pretty good teams in that span. I feel confident that his presence in the locker room will come in handy several times over the course of the 82 games (and more?) to come.

If there is any downside to this signing, it’s that the similarity of names (Joe Johnson, Joe Smith, Josh Smith) on the Hawks roster will potentially make discussing them very confusing. I’m sure we’ll manage though – at least until this guy decides to take up hoops.

Let us know what you think about the newest member of the squad in the comments!

UPDATE: Joe Smith talks about joining the Hawks


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