How taking a Josh Smith is good for your digestion

Posted on 01/08/2015 by


By now, you are all likely aware that the Pistons released Josh Smith and immediately turned their fortunes around.


What you are not aware of is how historic and epic this turnaround actually is. Here’s a list of the biggest jumps in point margin per game in the History (yes since November 1st of 1946) from game 1 thru 28 of the season to games 29 to 35:

Pistons Jump

The Pistons 21.5 point jump in game margin is number 1 and it’s not even close. If releasing a player like Josh Smith is the basketball soul equivalent of a bowel movement when you’re feeling a little queasy, this was a epic dump that lost the Pistons 20 full pounds of epic badness.

This was a river of poo on a Shawshank Redemption level and, boy is Mexico looking swell for Stan Van and the boys. To illustrate, If we look at all the teams that had a point margin of 10 point or more for games 29 to 35 we get:


That’s 85 teams that won an average of 67% of the games they played. Detroit was the worst of the group thru the first 28 games with an 18% win/loss % but of the 85 teams, 81 finished the season above five hundred (the exceptions being the 1960 Knicks, the 1975 Bucks, the  1988 Bullets and the snakebit 2014 Twolves) and only the 1960 Knicks and the 2008 Trailblazers failed to play at least .500 ball after game 28.

The Playoffs seem a very likely output for the Pistons. That may be the round one matchup to avoid.

 (Editor’s note: It’s off-topic here but the Warriors at 10 on this list, playing without their second best player, Bogut, should put the fear of God into every single other team in the NBA.)

Let’s talk a bit more about the actual numbers behind this epic shift.

Josh Smith is flirting with having the worst shooting season by a high usage shooter in the three point era. As of 01/07/2015, he has the second worst true shooting percentage of any player taking at least 15 shots per 36 minutes and having played at least 100o minutes (see here). A graphical representation of  specifically his time with the Pistons is even more revealing:


He was -4.2 points worse than the average player. Basically, not only did you not need to cover Josh Smith but if you’re the opposing team you’d want to do everything possible to give him an open look.

We will be coming back to this and the effect his absence has had on his former teammates (Hint: it’s been very,very good) soon.



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