Over the next week plus Pelican Debrief will be rolling out season reviews of all the players that at one point or another in the 2013-2014 season could be classified as rotation players. First we took a look at Luke Babbitt, then Darius Miller who was followed by Jeff Withey turn. Today we turn our attention to Jason Smith.
Stats: 31 games played (27 starts), 26.8 mpg, 9.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.9 bpg, 0.4 spg
Highlight: December 11 against the Pistons Smith put up 22 points on 8/14 shooting, 16 rebounds, an assist and two blocks in 40 minutes, helping the Pelicans to a 111-106 victory.
The good: 47.4 FG% from two-pointers sixteen feet and beyond. Like many of the Pelicans, Smith knew his role and limitations and played well within them. Offensively that meant being a weapon off the pick-and-pop. 61.3 percent of Smith’s shots came from between sixteen feet and the three point line this season and he knocked down 47.4 percent of those shots. For comparison’s sake, LaMarcus Aldridge, one of the best mid-range shooting big men in the game shot 44.2 percent from the same area.
The bad: 56.3 FG% from 0-3 feet. Much like Jeff Withey, Smith understood his abilities and didn’t attempt to take many shots at the rim (just 17 percent of his total shots came from 0-3 feet), but much like Withey when he did he struggled, someone as big as Smith should be shooting higher than 56 percent from that distance.
The Ugly: 49.5 true shooting percentage. While Smith’s jump shooting helps spacing a center with a 49.5 ts% makes life really difficult on an offense. The biggest difference between this year and the past two for Smith was the finishing at the rim and it really affected his true shooting percentage. A few more finishes there and things turn out differently for him.
2014 was a tough year for Jason Smith as he saw across the board drops in a lot of different areas before suffering a knee injury that sidelined him for the last 51 games of the year.
When he did play Smith was not the same player he had been in the past suffering drops in PER, effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, assist percentage and block percentage though a large part of the troubles could be tied to injuries that he battled all season. What he did effectively was space the floor for New Orleans thanks to his deadly mid-range shooting abilities. By being so good from 16 feet and beyond Smith allowed space in the paint for the Pelicans that needed it.
Defensively Smith was average, allowing opponents to post a 19.3 PER and a 57.4 efficient field goal percentage against him at center, but he didn’t out and out hurt the Pelicans defense as they allowed just 0.2 points per 100 possessions more with Smith off the floor than with him on.
The worst part of the year for Smith though was the injuries. As an unrestricted free agent Smith was set to make a fair share of money with a good season, now teams must decide how much he is worth a year removed from knee surgery. That may mean that Smith takes a one year deal somewhere to try and rebuild his value as some other players have recently. In that case it may make sense for the Pelicans to try and work out a cheap deal to at least have a dependable veteran around the team. Anything more though seems unlikely with the promising play of Jeff Withey and Alexis Ajinca this season in Smith’s absence.
For a guy who gave the Pelicans a few really solid years it is a shame things potentially ended the way they did for Smith in New Orleans. But unfortunately even he wasn’t able to escape the bad luck that plagued the Pelican’s organization this season. Now we wait and see where each side goes from here.
The lesson as always: Injuries are the worst.