Top 10 Hawks Matchups – #4: Josh Smith Returns to Atlanta
The Detroit Pistons will come to Atlanta on Nov. 20, which will be the first time the Hawks will play against Josh Smith. Smith signed with the Pistons this summer after spending his first nine seasons in the NBA as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. Smith’s return to Philips Arena in November will be one of the biggest moments of the season, and that is why it comes in at number four on our countdown.
Over his nine-year Hawks career Smoove averaged 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds 3.2 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Smith was the only player in the league to have those numbers over that period, with Tim Duncan being the only other player in the NBA during that time with averages of 15+ points, 8+ rebounds, 3+ assists and 2+ blocks. Smith was one of the foundational pieces of the Hawks’ rebuild in the mid-2000’s, and, along with the additions of Joe Johnson and Al Horford, was one of the biggest reasons that the Hawks became a perennial playoff team.
Smith’s return to Philips Arena will be the first of four meetings the Hawks will have with the Pistons this season, including a game two nights later in Detroit. To add some back-court firepower, the Pistons signed Chauncey Billups in free agency and then traded Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton and Viacheslav Kravstov to the Milwaukee Bucks for Brandon Jennings. The Pistons have a loaded defensive front-court with Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, but there are a lot of questions on the offensive end.
With Smith playing small forward, the Pistons will have spacing issues when that trio is on the court together as defenses will pack the paint, forcing the Pistons to make jump shots in order to draw the defense out. For them to do that, they will have to get more efficient production from the perimeter from players like Jennings and Smith. Last year, Smith shot 30.4% from 10+ feet and Jennings shot 38.7% from 10+ feet from the basket. If the Pistons are going to prevent teams from dropping into the paint and sinking off shooters to double their front-court, they will need Smith and Jennings to be more efficient jump shooters.
Seeing Smoove come out in introductions on the Philips Arena floor in a different uniform will be a strange sight, and will no doubt be an emotional moment for Josh, his former teammates and Hawks fans. That is why Detroit’s visit on Nov. 20 comes in as the fourth game in our schedule countdown.