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Smith gives needed experience

BY MIKE BALDWIN Published: October 7, 2008
The ultimate compliment is being highly regarded by your peers.

Joe Smith’s value goes beyond solid career stats (11.9 points, 6.9 rebounds). Beginning his 14th NBA season, Smith could have an impact on a young Thunder roster similar to what P.J. Brown provided when the Hornets were in Oklahoma City.

"You talk to any guy in the league and Joe Smith is a guy everyone wants on their team,” said point guard Earl Watson. "He brings experience which you can’t replace. He brings toughness. He brings a dimension in the paint.

"He’s a guy who can pick and pop (a shot) which is so vital in the NBA. He can guard anyone in the league. He’s tremendous. He’s so versatile it’s hard to put into words what he brings to your team.”

Obtained in a trade late this summer, Smith is best known by some as the trivia answer to the question: Who was the No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft, the year Kevin Garnett was selected No. 5?

But if you set aside where he was drafted, and focus on Smith’s production during 13 NBA seasons, you understand why Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo believes Smith’s constant smile, upbeat personality and steady production are invaluable.

"There’s no question he’s still got a lot left in the tank,” Carlesimo said. "He lit us up (25 points, 10 rebounds) last year in Chicago. And he played well for Cleveland in the playoffs, especially in the second round. We’ve just got to figure out how we want to use him, how many minutes we ask him to play.”

After playing more than 26,000 career minutes, Smith’s knees aren’t what they once were.

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Second go-round
P.J. Carlesimo coached Joe Smith a decade ago when both were with the Golden State Warriors.

Here’s how Carlesimo breaks down Smith’s game:

→"Gets up and down the floor. Can still make a living inside. Little jump hook with either hand. Good shooter. Rebounds. Blocks shots. Stretches the floor. Can hit elbow jump shots (near free-throw line) or deeper. Knowledgeable player. Can put it on the floor a little. Can’t say ‘He’s a back-to-the-basket player and that’s all he can do.’

→"Gives you a little bit of post-up and a little beat-you off-the-dribble. Can pass or shoot it from up top. Stretches out a big (center). Good defender. Uses length well. Not physical but can make a living inside. Not overpowering with strength. More of a finesse player. Great teammate. Good for chemistry.”

By Mike Baldwin


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