You may not have noticed — you’re a busy person — but Josh Smith changed teams mid-year. There was a big to-do about it way back. Say what you will about Smoove, but the man stays on the court. The fewest games he’s ever played in a season was 66, and that was the lockout season of 2011-2012, when the schedule only had 66 games.
This year, Smith took his durability to a new level. When the Detroit Pistons released him on December 22, he had played in all 28 of their games. On December 26, the Houston Rockets signed him after he cleared waivers and played him that night. Then he played 54 more games. In all, Smith led the league with 83 games played. Which, of course, is highly unusual.
In fact, the last player to break the 82-game barrier like Smoove was Ramon Sessions just last year, because of a trade from the Bobcats to the Bucks. The only other time in the last ten years this has happened was Jarrett Jack in the 2010-2011 season, when he was traded from the Raptors to the New Orleans Hornets.
Since we’re already in the “weird statistics” rabbit hole, let’s take a look at the all-time leaders in games played in a single season. Ignoring the ABA because they were super weird, we have Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy as the leader with…88 GAMES?! How is that possible?
Bellamy was traded from the Knicks to the Pistons for Dave DeBusschere in December of 1968. Remember, the NBA didn’t have chartered flights back then, so schedules were more unbalanced to account for travel. Still, the dude put in work, and he wasn’t a slouch on the court, either. He averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds that season.
It also bears noting that since Josh Smith was jettisoned by the Pistons, he improved considerably as the primary big man off the bench for the Rockets, anchoring the second unit defense and doing lots of the things that Hawks fans remember from his glory days. He even shot a not-so-terrible 33 percent from beyond the arc in Houston!
Josh Smith’s got one extra game on his legs than anyone else in the NBA, so hopefully his special place in obscure NBA history doesn’t mean he’s dragging his butt around in the playoffs. The Rockets need him.