Joe Johnson is the Atlanta Hawks' highest-paid player.
Al Horford is a two-time All Star.
Jamal Crawford is “The People’s Player,” in regards to the folks I know who love his handle, as well as his penchant for making long-range threes with damn near no time left on the clock...
...and Josh Smith is their most important player, at least, that is the opinion of the author here.
Wait; so the guy who is their highest-paid player, another who is a two-time All Star, and a third who is “The People’s Player” is not the most important player for the Hawks? That belongs to Josh Smith? Yes; absolutely.
Josh Smith has enough ability to be the difference in Atlanta staying content with being in the second round and making a run to the conference finals. When he is at his best, he’s a monster on defense, ferocious on the boards, and attacking the rim.
The man has a good touch around the basket, can make a mid-range jumper within the flow of the offense, and has that “it” factor to swing the momentum of a game, just from blocking a shot into the stands, dunking on somebody’s head, or doing something else spectacular.
With all that said, why doesn’t Josh Smith get more respect?
Honestly, it’s hard to pin down. The man is immensely talented, which people will readily admit. Maybe it is a case of him being so talented that people either (a) take him for granted, or (b) expect him to do more, and while both are valid, it doesn’t seem like the time has been taken to showcase the things he does well. It’s a shame that he’s pigeon-holed in Atlanta, where there are only flashes of what he can do, because if he was in the right setting, he would be a serious problem.
I will readily admit he has moments on the court when he plays like a nincompoop and he has to play smarter basketball, especially when he launched threes and other crazy-ass long-range jumpers. However, let’s not act like it’s just him that’s guilty of this on Atlanta. The entire Hawks team is guilty of doing stuff that’s senseless, stupid, and selfish; every single last one of them, and if you don’t believe me, just sit down one night and watch them play.
The man gets ridiculed to no end, and it’s from people who know and understand basketball. Larry Luk and myself are the most visible Josh Smith Apologists you will find in the extended ETSF family, while everyone else that I know who speaks of him likes to tell me how sorry he is for being so talented. Some say he’s trying too hard. Others say he’s good, but he’s a dummy. It’s truly mind-boggling.
It seems like Josh Smith is surviving on being a tremendous athlete, while still learning how to play within the system. If the dude ever gets proper tutelage, it will be the difference between being a fringe star and an All-Star. Hell, in my opinion, he’s been an All-Star the last two years, but it goes back to not really knowing what he is on the floor, and it seems to have worked against him when it comes to being recognized by the masses. Even with that as a possibility, the man deserves more props than he’s been given so far.
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