5. Jason Smith – 27 Games Started, -2.4 Box Plus-Minus as a Pelican
I feel like sometimes people laugh at Davis’ desire to play the power forward. Like, why would a guy that big, who can’t shoot threes that well, be so fixated on the idea of playing the four? However, don’t forget that, once upon a time, the San Antonio Spurs played Hall of Famer Tim Duncan at the four, with fellow Hall of Famer David Robinson playing alongside him at the center. Together, the two formed a defensive dynasty, the likes of which we have seldom seen before.
The thing is, if you pay attention throughout history, any time you play a double center lineup like that, you are automatically going to juice your defense. What made the Duncan/Robinson duo so special is that they could juice your defense and provide an offensive punch with their passing and low post-scoring.
That is not what happened when Davis and Jason Smith shared the court together. According to PBP Stats, during Davis’ tenure, the New Orleans Twin Towers (I’m sorry I even called them that as a joke) played 501 minutes together. In that stretch, the team had a defensive rating of 105.66.
That’s pretty impressive, especially given that they played together right around the start of the pace and space explosion. However, the downside is they sacrificed a ton on offense. In those 501 minutes, their offensive rating was just a 105.42. That means that, despite their defensive splendor, they still had a Net Rating of -0.24.
All of that lies squarely on the shoulders of, you guessed it, Smith. During his time in New Orleans, he was far from the Robinson to Davis’ Duncan. In totality, Smith averaged 7.2 PPG, 0.7 APG, and an OBPM of -2.0 during his five seasons with the Pelicans (with his best seasons coming before Davis’ arrival).
The reason Smith ranks this high on the list is that he started more games than Stiemsma (27 to 20) and posted a lower BPM (-2.4 to -1.7).