Is This the Year for Smoove?

Friday, January 13, 2012
By Jon Newberry

Josh Smith: Player Profile | Photo Gallery

The early results of the 2012 NBA All-Star Balloting were released by the league earlier today, and Josh Smith was not among the top-10 forwards in votes received. It is the latest example of how fan voting isn’t always accurate.

Don’t give up hope yet that this may finally be the year that Josh breaks through to add “All-Star” to his impressive resume. The fan vote only determines the starters, while two or (most likely) three reserve forwards will be determined by the Eastern Conference head coaches. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony seem to be locks for the fan vote based on the early results and historic precedence, so it is really a handful of forwards competing for the collective nod from the coaches.

One day after Smith dropped 30 and 13 on the Bobcats, I felt it was a good time to make the argument for Josh to make the trip to Orlando in late February.

Smoove is the ONLY player in the Eastern Conference that ranks in the top-10 in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks among forwards. That’s right, not even LeBron or ‘Melo can make that claim. James is actually the only other player to rank in the top-10 in four out of the five categories.

Josh’s overall numbers are definitely enough to get the attention of many Eastern Conference coaches, but they have been even more impressive recently.

After a relatively slow start (10.2 ppg and 7.2 rpg in December), Smoove has taken his game to a whole new level. Over the last eight games he is averaging 20.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.9 spg and 1.8 bpg.

On paper, Smith looks like he should get some serious consideration to make this year’s team… but history has proven that there are factors other than what is found on the stat sheet that determine how coaches vote for all-star reserves.

It is safe to say that players that have made the All-Star team before have a decided edge over those who haven’t. This puts guys like Josh and Chicago’s Luol Deng at a disadvantage against players like Garnett, Pierce, Bosh and Stoudemire.

Coaches also tend to vote for guys that are leading the better teams in the conference. If the Hawks continue to play well and have one of the four or five best records in the East when the coaches cast their votes, then that should help Smoove’s chances.

There are plenty of games between in the condensed schedule between now and when the coaches votes are due, but if this recent stretch is any indication of the type of play we can expect from Smith all season long, then J-Smoove will be a hard name to leave off the ballot.