Jason Smith, Hey Dude — 2016-17 Wizards Player Previews | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Jason Smith, Hey Dude — 2016-17 Wizards Player Previews

Updated: October 22, 2016

The 2016-17 NBA season is almost here … and upon last check, they are still going to allow the Washington Wizards to participate. So the TAI crew is firing up the pixel makers and churning out player previews, or rather, “Wizards Player Haters’ Previews” — which is not to say that we are hating on the players or the game, but that this season’s version of the Wizards is ready to hate on all those who stand in their way. Up now: Jason Smith, via yours truly (@Truth_About_It). 


Of course Jason Smith doesn’t have a designated nickname (or two) on Basketball-Reference.com. For the purposes of this post, we’ll just call him “Hey, Dude” until further notice. He very well may be the new Darius Songaila, as well as one of thousands of Jason Smiths across the land, but that would be too much of a ‘standard white guy’ comparison. Analytically, BBR rates Jud Buechler, Corie Blount, Pete Chilcutt, Steve Kuberski, Ryan Bowen, and ex-Washington Bullet Tom Hammonds (in that order) as “most similar” to Smith over the first eight years of a career. So, statistically white, according to four out of six dentists.

Smith is Washington’s new-age stretch 5 option, which he generally played last season in Orlando with Aaron Gordon or Andrew Nicholson, now a Wizard, as his partner at 4. But even with Ian Mahinmi hurt and out until mid- to late-November, Smith is still the third string center after Marcin Gortat and Nicholson. Maybe even the fourth string 4 after Markieff Morris, Nicholson, and Otto Porter. All this just comes with the territory of an NBAer, entering his ninth year in the league for his fifth team, who was signed away from the Magic for three years and $15.675 million by the good ol’ Washington Wizards as the cherry on top of a free agency scramble.

But Smith serves a key purpose this season: he is not Maybyner Rodney Hilario (neither is Nicholson). When asked to diagnose what ailed the Wizards’ big man situation last season at September’s media day, Smith said, “You guys had two rolling bigs in Nene and Gortat. The issue had kind of been Marcin wanted to play with a guy who can pick-and-pop or space out the defense. I think we have that opportunity this year, adding Andrew Nicholson, adding myself; Ian is coming in, we have a great core of bigs.” (And Mahinmi was to be the rim protector that Nene wasn’t.)

Smith only attempted 16 3-pointers last season, making four — he’s 34-for 116 (29.3%) in his career overall. So let’s not necessarily think of this a Kris Humphries situation, per se (1). Humphries shot 2-for-27 from deep over 10 NBA seasons prior to starting 23-for-67 (34.3%) with the Wizards last season. From 16 feet to the 3-point line, Smith shot 47 percent with 65 percent of all his attempts coming from that range. His point guards in Orlando were often Victor Oladipo, or Elfrid Payton, or both at the same time.

“That’s my forte, pick-and-pop is what I do, and I try to make it as beneficial to the team as possible,” said Smith, soldiering on. “Even though I may not get the shot, if I set a good screen for John, or Brad, or Kelly, or Otto—anybody on our team who’s handling the ball—if I can set a good screen on their man and get them open and our team succeeds, I’ve done my job.”

Nene Hilario shot 39 percent from long 2, pick-and-pop / ‘just open there because John Wall sucked in the defense’ range—just 21 percent of his field goal attempts (2). But sometimes it’s about the screen you set, the wall you are—as Smith made sure to highlight. Not that Nene wasn’t a good screen setter, but sometimes with him it was all about the presentation, i.e., bitching to the referees. While Smith is known to be scrappy in the trenches, Nene became more spastic in his old age.

Smith is also kind of a nasty man, but in a good way (non-Donald Trump voice). Meaning, you better check yourself, Blake Griffin:

Still, Nene pulled 75 percent
of the ‘who would you rather have’ vote in a July poll on Twitter. Here’s Smith trying to defend Nene, for what it’s worth:

And would you just look at this?

But it’s not all about Smith versus Nene, who was at one point a high-quality NBA starter who might have been the league’s best passing / screen-defending big man (who also perhaps never lived up to his potential). And lest we forget: importing Nene and exporting JaVale McGee allowed the team of John Wall (and Bradley Beal) to grow up.

It’s partially about Smith just knowing his role while being that dude who leads by basketballing. I asked him how he sees his game is meshing with John Wall’s:

“Trying to stay out of his way. He is super fast. It’s been seen on tape time and time again, you give it to him with four seconds left in the quarter and he can take it the full length of the court and get you a layup.”


Smith wasn’t the glamorous add—and he knows this, that’s not how dudes roll. Even if Smith didn’t roll much this preseason, playing the sixth-fewest minutes (74) of the 18 players on the training camp roster and scoring 20 points on 10-for-30 shooting (0-for-8 from deep) (3). But… Markieff Morris did play about 43 more preseason minutes and got one more rebound than Smith (21-20).

And maybe Smith is just Scott Brooks’ Nick Collison (but with better shooting). Dammit, another cliché white guy comparison. Whatever: we wanted a stretch-5, here’s one. Not terribly shabby (but certainly questionable).

We shall end with a few of the greatest hits in Jason Smith tweeting history.

  1. Fun Fact: Here’s a Jason Smith vs. Kris Humphries lay-up contest Vine.
  2. To further illustrate, Smith shot 57.4% (35-61) from the bunny-jumper 10-16-foot range to Nene’s 39.6%, all data via Basketball-Reference.com. Click to watch a Vine of Smith popping an elbow jumper this preseason.
  3. Smith played 17.5 minutes with 10 points on 5-10 FGs, 0-3 on 3Ps in the preseason finale versus Toronto.
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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.