According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the San Antonio Spurs are interested in acquiring Atlanta Hawks star Josh Smith. This comes mere days after Chris Broussard of ESPN New York reported that the Brooklyn Nets were aggressively pursuing Smith.
Should Smith end up with the Spurs, his legendary 2012-13 season would reach a new level of greatness.
Per Basketball-Reference.com, Smith is on pace to finish the 14th season in NBA history with averages of at least 17.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals. Even still, he could be traded.
The ways of the NBA.
It's important to note that steals and blocks were not officially counted as statistics until the 1973-74 season. For that reason, we're likely failing to include decades of Bill Russell and others achieving this very feat.
Going off of the statistics we're provided, however, Smith is on pace to be the seventh player in NBA history with such numbers.
The last time an individual achieved this feat was 2004, when Kevin Garnett won league MVP. During that season, KG posted 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.5 steals.
Smith presently rests at 17.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.3 steals.
Should the Spurs acquire Smith, his legendary numbers will be raised to a new plateau. This isn't a result of a statistical increase, but instead, the opportunity of a lifetime.
One in which Smith could help anchor a team to a potential title.
Opportunity for Postseason Glory
Smith has made the playoffs in every season since 2008. In that time, he has 44 games of postseason experience and averages of 15.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.2 steals.
With that being said, Smith has never been granted a legitimate opportunity to win an NBA championship.
With the San Antonio Spurs, Smith would continue to build upon their NBA-best record of 41-12. With home-court advantage throughout, Smith would learn what it's like to play for a coach who knows how to maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses.
Under Gregg Popovich, Smith's shot selection would improve and his greatest strengths would be on full display every time out.
As for those who feel he isn't up to the task, Smith averaged 16.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists during the 2012 postseason. This came as he was matched up against Garnett and the rugged Boston Celtics.
With the Spurs one elite athlete away from taking down the Oklahoma City Thunder, Smith would have the opportunity to shine on the grandest stage of them all.
Learning From the Legend
Should Smith end up with the San Antonio Spurs, the athletically gifted forward would have a chance to hone his fundamentals like never before. A major reason for this potential progression is the presence of The Big Fundamental.
That man, of course, is Tim Duncan.
Duncan is commonly referred to as a player that gets by on fundamentals due to a lack of athleticism. While that is true at this stage in his career, Duncan was once an impressive athlete in his own right.
If anyone can teach Smith how to translate his explosive athleticism into interior dominance, Duncan is the one to do it.
With Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili handling the ball, Smith will be granted the opportunity to finish close to the basket. Most specifically, Smith will be given the opportunity to thrive with the pick-and-roll.
Something that few have ever executed as well as Parker and Ginobili.
Both men are dominant slashers that can enter the paint and find the open man with crisp passes. Each would allow Smith to finish close to the basket or to step out for a mid-range J.
The different in San Antonio and Atlanta is simple—Parker and Ginobili will know when Smith should step out for a jumper.
With Smith surrounded by such elite talent, the room for growth is undeniable. With the mentoring and coaching that he'd receive, Smith could finally take the leap from star to elite.
Most importantly, he could provide a legendary ending to his historic season.