Ever since he entered the league in 2004, Josh Smith has been treating the basketball world with highlight reel dunks on a nightly basis. While he still gets above the rim routinely, J-Smooth has also developed an all-around game. He has become one of the league’s all-around threats averaging 16 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.6 bpg, 1.6 spg, while shooting 58.9 percent from the field. We caught up with Smith before the Hawks dismantled the Knicks 114-101 last night.
Dime: So far this season you have improved a lot of your stats from assists to field goal percentage. Coming into this season, was it your goal to be more well rounded?
Josh Smith: Of course I try to always get better all-around. I just try to do whatever I can to make an impact on the court. I just try to make the right decisions and be in good spots. If you seen us play, I’ve always been a good passer. This year, I have a lot of options to pass to. There’s a lot of guys who can make shots, so I try to just create plays when available.
Dime: Like I was saying your field goal percentage is way up, and I’ve also noticed you haven’t taken a single three yet this season. Have you made it a point to get away from shooting jumpers?
JS: Yeah I wanted to focus on driving to the lane and making mid-range shots. We got a lot of guys on this team who can hit it from behind the arc so it allows me to focus on other things.
Dime: You are proving to be one of the more valuable role players in the league. Do you think you’re capable of being the go-to guy on a team some day?
JS: I’m capable of being it. Right now, I am fine just playing off others. I don’t feel I have to focus on being a go-to player on a team anymore because we have so many weapons and you can be an important contributor in other ways.
Dime: How far can this team go?
JS: We can go as far as we want to go. We’re a talented group of guys. We’re confident. All we have to do is stay together and play unselfish.
Dime:Does it bother you that some people just view you as just a dunker?
JS:I mean no. I mean a lot of players before me, who have been in or won a dunk contest is always labeled as just a dunker. They labeled Vince Carter as a dunker early on when he won it. And he proved himself as an all around player and that’s all you got to do to erase that label.
Dime: You were also labeled early in your career as having a poor attitude. Did that bother you and did you think some of the criticism was justified?
JS: I really didn’t pay attention to it because people said it, were people that didn’t know me. It was people who didn’t know the situation. It was mainly people being influenced by something they read. If you read something that somebody writes about another person, it influences you and makes you kind of gullible. So you can’t judge a book by its cover unless you read it.
Dime: Being an NBA player with money, I’m sure there are people coming out of nowhere wanting things from you. Are you still suspicious of letting new friends in your life?
JS: No I’m not. I kind of kept my circle close, didn’t let anyone else in my circle. As long as you don’t add new friends, you don’t have to worry about somebody liking you because of your money instead of for your love.
Dime: Was there any point in your career where you ever wished you went to college?
JS:No there wasn’t. Because you go to college to get to the NBA and that’s everyone’s wild fantasy and your dream. So I always wanted to live my dream. When I was in high school, an opportunity presented itself and I was down for it. A lot of my teammates say ‘you missed it, you missed out on college life.’ But down the street from me as a rookie was UGA. I had a couple of friends down there, so when they all wanted to hang out, I did anyway.
Dime: What do you want to do when your career is over?
JS: I’m not sure. Commentating is something that interests me. It’s challenging. That or something that has to do with basketball. I love the game so much, and I’m so in tuned to everything that’s going on. I’m also a sports fanatic, I watch a little bit of everything.
Dime: You have been with the Hawks for the past five seasons. Is this a team that’s big on hazing rookies? Were you hazed?
JS: No they tried to haze us a little bit. When I came in, it was four of us rookies, so we were like brothers and we really didn’t let anybody run us over. I don’t really do hazing. I ask them to do a little something for me here and there for me, but nothing too crazy.
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