Dec 15, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) looks to pass the ball while being defended by Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (left) during the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors: David Lee vs Josh Smith

Dec 15, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) looks to pass the ball while being defended by Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (left) during the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Smith is no longer an Atlanta Hawk. Rather he is now the starting small forward for the Detroit Pistons. Smith joins a massive front line of young stars Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. But for the sake of this conversation lets compare two of the better power forwards in the league.

Lee is actually the younger of the two, but Smith has played one more season. Smith was drafted in 2004 as the last of the high school to the pros phase. Lee went to the University of Florida and was a first round pick in 2005. But the difference in their statistical production is striking.

Smith has played in 728 games in his career compared to Lee’s 583 and  he was quite a stuff stuffer for the Hawks. Smith has 24% more field goals made in his career than Lee. 67% more assists, 3% more rebounds, 30% points scored, 627% more blocks, and 86% more steals. Lee’s numbers in the categories listed above are respectable but are mediocre compared to Smith’s.  However, Both Smith and Lee average 15 points per game and Lee actually averages more rebounds per game than Smith. Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 11.53.18 PMvia http://iknow.io/explore/nba-3/head-to-head/#ltid=3737115&rtid=3736970 

The left graph illustrates Lee’s rebounding production. The right one illustrates Smith’s. Lee is a double-double machine. Even though  Lee 164 total games where he has had 10, 11, or 12 rebounds and Smith has 161 games where he has had 10, 11, or 12 rebounds in a game. If you include the amount of games Lee has where he grabs 13 or 14 rebounds the total jumps to 237which surpasses Smith’s totals.

What actually separates Lee as the better player than Smith is his role on the floor. Smith is notorious as a flashy show-boat. He is well-known for his questionable shot selection and selfishness at different points in a given season. His 46% shooting percentage from the field exhibits that idea.

Look at all the red on Smith’s shot chart from last season. He is below average from just above the free throw line, on both the left and right blocks, and from different spots behind the arc. Smith struggles from everywhere but the paint. He can’t shoot from either block and struggles to consistently make midrange jumpers. So why does he attempt threes? Who knows. He’s Josh Smith, J-Smooth.Shotchart_1381635216568

Now look at Lee’s shot chart below. Ignore the red behind the arc, because Lee only took two three pointers.  all season. Lee’s chart illustrates far more green and far more yellow inside the arc. Lee is an effective and efficient scorer in the paint and hast the ability to facilitate as well. Lee is above average from the left block, free throw line- high post area and above the free throw line. His versatile offensive arsenal provides an added dimension to the Warriors offensive and further helps the teams floor spacing. Shotchart_1381635343361

Even though I expect Smith’s shot chart to be far more green and yellow this season than last, Smith will still insist on getting his own stats and taking his new Pistons squad out of their flow on offense. While Smith may have better overall career stats than Lee, because of Lee’s unselfishness and efficiency, Lee is the better player and teammate.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks David Lee Detroit Pistons Golden State Warriors Josh Smith NBA

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