We look at why the signing of Josh Smith is a smart move by the Clippers and how he can alter the Western Conference landscape and the NBA odds.
Eight months ago things looked bleak for Josh Smith’s NBA career when the Pistons paid him to go away. But he found some redemption by signing with the Houston Rockets and becoming an integral part of their playoff run last season.
Smith was a major part of one of the most memorable moments in playoff history when he and Corey Brewer sparked an amazing Rockets’ comeback in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Clippers, which would help them even a series that was already lost before advancing to face the Warriors in the Conference Finals.
That performance was just the latest stage of his career turnaround and now, the same player that was waived by the Pistons not so long ago has just signed a one-year contract for the veterans minimum worth $1.5 million with the same Clippers team that witnessed his potential first hand.
Will the Loss of Josh Smith Prove Costly for the Rockets?
Josh Smith played 55 games for the Rockets last season. He scored in double digits in 35 of the 48 games in which he came off the bench and finished with four 20-point games. Smith ended up averaging 16.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 blocks per 36 minutes.
The Rockets (+2500 to win the NBA Championship at Bovada) were already a step behind the defending champion Warriors and Western Conference contenders like the Spurs, Clippers and Thunder, who made great moves in the offseason, before losing a versatile frontcourt player like Smith, so it will be interesting to see what they will do to replace his valuable contributions and remain competitive.
Impact of Josh Smith Joining the Clippers
It's hard to believe that the same Josh Smith that was booed every time he took a shot with the Pistons could be the X-Factor for a Clippers team that he helped eliminate from the playoffs when he was with the Rockets.
Let's not forget that the Clippers were legitimate title contenders last season. They eliminated the Spurs in the first round and they were one-win away from reaching the Western Conference Finals. Who knows what would have happened if they clashed with the Golden State Warriors for the Conference title.
The Clippers already had a stacked roster before bringing talent, experience and depth with the additions of Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce and with DeAndre Jordan's last-minute decision to return, but Josh Smith could thrive with this team and make them very dangerous for the same reason he was so successful with the Rockets.
Smith is versatile and athletic, he can play at small forward or at power forward and he can handle the ball extremely well and pass like a point guard. James Harden benefitted from this when Smith played with him in Houston and the possibility of having him spend time sharing the floor with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will give the Clippers a scary frontcourt, even more depth and the possibility to use diverse lineup combinations.
He made 27.9 passes per game, creating 6.6 points per game on assists and he will be surrounded by plenty of shooters, slashers and interior scorers so he should find an abundance of assist opportunities.
Overall he scored 0.87 points per play in transition, which increased to 1.22 points per play after factoring in his ability to assist.
The Clippers' NBA odds to win the NBA Championship next season moved from +1200 before the additions of Pierce and Smith and the re-signing of Jordan to +900 at bet365. Last year's collapse against the Rockets won't erase the fact that the Clippers were a team on the rise and Smith will be a valuable addition for them. He might even be the final piece to their championship puzzle.