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November 3, 2009
On the Beat
Smith Reaches Block Milestone

by John Perrotto

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Josh Smith is on pace to go down as one of the greatest shot blockers in NBA history.

The Hawks forward became the youngest player to reach 900 career blocks last Saturday against the Wizards, reaching the milestone at 23 years and 329 days. Shaquille O’Neal had held the distinction, getting to 900 at 24 years and 286 days.

Smith was also the youngest to reach 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700 and 800 blocks.

“It’s impressive to see somebody block that many shots,” Hawks forward Marvin Williams said. “He’s got it figured out. He should write a book or something.”

Smith never set out to be the authority on blocked shots. It is just something that has evolved over his five-plus seasons in the NBA.

“It started out with me being young and just playing with energy and now it has become something I just have a knack for,” Smith said. “I’ve worked hard to perfect it. I depend on it, my teammates definitely depend on me to do it and reaching 900 at the age I am now is a testament to that. I don't think this is something you set out to do. It just becomes a part of what you do to try and help your team win games.”

Smith also defies the usual profile of the classic shot blocker being a 7-foot center.

“It’s incredible but I can’t say it shouldn't be a part of his game because the guy is a superior athlete,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. “He's got the ability to block shots. It's something he should feel good about and he should try and go out and get three or four a game because it changes the game.”

The Timberwolves Try the Triangle

First-year Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis is a big believer in the triangle offense and understandably so. Rambis was an assistant with the Lakers, who run the triangle to perfection.

The Timberwolves are still making the adjustment to an offense that requires players to go to specific spots on the floor while reading and reacting to the defense before making passes. So far, the Timberwolves are 1-3 and their 106.9 offensive rating ranks 25th among the NBA’s 30 teams. Their .482 effective field goal percentage in 27th and their 15.5 turnover percentage is 18th.

“It’s not easy,” said Ramon Sessions, who is sharing the point guard position with rookie Jonny Flynn. “It’s going to take a lot of work. Game by game, I’m getting more comfortable out there in just trying to run a team. It’s a different type of basketball. There’s only one team that runs it, a veteran team in the Lakers, and that’s for a reason. It’s coming along game by game.”

Rambis understands that he is going to have to be patient while his players try to figure out the intricacies of the triangle.

“We’re still learning how to play,” Rambis said. “We’re asking guys to do a lot of things they’re not used to doing. A lot of it is learning to play together. You really have to give of yourself to make it work.”

Wallace Feels Vindicated

No player has been a bigger critic of NBA officials over the years than Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace. Thus, it was not a surprise that he read the excerpts of an unpublished book by former NBA official Tim Donaghy that were leaked to Deadspin.com last week.

Donaghy, who was sentenced to prison in 2007 for his role in fixing NBA games, claimed in Blowing the Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA that officials routinely targeted players for technical fouls and made bets on who would be the first to make the call.

“It lets people know that I ain’t a liar,’ Wallace said. “I mean that’s pretty much all I got to say about that. Everybody thought I was crazy and militant but it came to light.”

Wallace was suspended for seven games by the NBA in 2003 for allegedly threatening Donaghy on the loading dock at the Rose Garden in Portland after a game. Wallace denied making the threat.

Cuban Jabs at Artest

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban can’t stop poking fun at Lakers forward Ron Artest. Cuban speculated throughout the offseason that the controversial Artest might disrupt the Lakers’ chemistry after signing with them as a free agent.

After the Mavericks beat the Lakers last Friday, Cuban said of Artest, “He is probably mad because I heard he went out with Khloe before L.O. did.”

Cuban was referring to Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who married reality television personality Khloe Kardashian two days before the start of training camp.

Cuban was asked if he would ever take a gamble on a player with a checkered history like Artest.

“We got Shawne Williams and took a chance on him,” Cuban said. “It didn't work out and we put him out to pasture.”

John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
Jumping to Conclusions (11/02)
<< Previous Column
On the Beat (10/30)
Next Column >>
On the Beat (11/06)
Next Article >>
Every Play Counts (11/03)

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