As we take a look ahead to the offseason, there is good news and bad news. The good news is the Sixers will have a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27. The bad news is that is being considered possibly the weakest draft in NBA history. With that being said, the Sixers are unlikely to find an impact player, if there are any, via the draft this summer. If Tony DiLeo expects to be back in playoff contention next season, moves will have to be made either by trade or via free agency. Since the trade deadline just passed a little over a week ago, it is time to begin speculating on potential moves on upcoming free agents.
With Andrew Bynum unlikely to re-sign in Philadelphia and Chris Paul almost a lock to re-sign in Lob City, the next free agent on the list is Atlanta Hawks’ forward, Josh Smith. The 6-foot-9 swingman has had his share of ups and downs in Atlanta, and has shown his disgust with the front office at different points this season. While no one knows for sure, it is seeming more and more unlikely that Smith will be back in a Hawks’ uniform for the 2013-2014 season.
The 28-year old forward is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. After countless trade rumors, Atlanta decided to hold on to the face of their franchise and take their chances at re-signing him. Smith has shown flashes of greatness and at the same time, more than his fair share of inconsistency. What NBA teams rave most about is his freakish athletic ability for his size. At 6-foot-9, 225 pounds, Josh runs the floor like a guard and is an explosive leaper. Many of his emphatic dunks and blocks sent into the stands make him a nightly highlight reel.
Smith has averaged good numbers across the board this year. Entering Friday, his stat line consisted of 17.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2 blocks per game while shooting a solid 45.7% from the field. What drives his coaches and fans insane is his fascination with being a guard. Too often, Smith settles for contested mid-range jumpers and 3-pointers instead of using his rare combination of size, length, strength, and athleticism to attack the basket. Atlanta’s superstar is averaging a mediocre 0.85 points per possession, but that does not reflect his full ability, but instead the head-scratching shots he falls in love with. For instance, Smith averages 0.95 points per possession when he is the pick-and-roll man, and an even more impressive 1.16 in transition.
While Josh Smith has the potential to be an explosive offensive player, his defense is consistently solid. Opponents are averaging just 0.78 points per possession and an even lower 0.72 in the post. Smith possesses the strength and size to defend big men in the post, and the lateral quickness and length to guard perimeter players. He does a great job of hedging and defending the pick-and-roll as well. His overall skill set allows him to switch on screens, fight over the top, or go underneath. Potentially, Josh Smith could do everything you could ask for in a basketball player, but it all comes down to shot selection and work ethic.
In the month of February, Josh put up All-Star caliber numbers. Perhaps an audition for a possible max-contract in free agency this summer, but nevertheless, he has been impressive. Smith averaged 19.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists on 50.9% shooting from the floor and 43.2% from behind the arc in the year’s shortest month.
The potential is there, the cap room will be there if Bynum doesn’t re-sign, and the need for a 6-foot-9 forward that possesses the athleticism that Josh Smith does is always there. Many teams will be giving the future free agent a call this summer, should the Sixers be one of those teams? What do you think?