Friday, October 23, 2009

Josh Smith and Atlanta Hawks: Defense wins championships

We know he can jump out of the gym.

We know he can blocks shots out of the gym.

However, is the season where he will bring enough to the gym and earn his first NBA All-Star selection?

The Atlanta Hawks’ high-flying forward Josh Smith is ready to begin his sixth NBA season.
Smith is ready for team success and personal success.

“After all the goals we have as a team-and we have lots of them-those are definitely my goals,” Smith said. “And I don’t think they are too far-fetched. I’m six years into my career and I’ve tasted some success. I want more of that, for my team and myself, in that order.”

One of Josh’s goals this season is to earn a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team, something that he has yet to do in his young NBA career. He and head coach Mike Woodson think he can do it by becoming an elite defender.

“It’s not always about scoring the ball,” Woodson said. “Sometimes it’s about leading the league in rebounding or the best defensive player in the league that helps you make an All-Star team. I remember Ben Wallace making a few that way.”

Along with never making an All-Star team, Smith has been missing from the All-Defensive team also. Smith has averaged 2.3 blocks per game, something that Smith feels people have overlooked.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘Well, blocking shots doesn’t always mean someone’s playing great defense.’ “I disagree,” Smith said. “It’s hard work, too. It’s a game changer as well. If you do it right, it can change the game on any play.”

It’s true. His shot-blocking ability is among the best shot blockers in the league. But, defense is not just about blocking shots. Rebounding is also a key part to defense. In his career, Smith is just averaging 7.4 rebounds per game.

“I’ve worked really hard on that part of my game in the past few years and especially this past summer,” he said. “Honestly, I would appreciate making the All-Defensive team more than anything.”

Defending and rebounding is what wins games, coach Woodson commented when asked about Smith’s season goals.

“But I want Josh thinking big and aiming high with all his goals,” he added. “I want him to shoot for all of it, so long as it helps this team win games.”

Last night, Smith and the Hawks handed a 113-95 loss to the visiting Washington Wizards. Their next game is Thursday against the Miami Heat.