Josh Smith - Youngest Player to 1000 Blocks
Since blocked shots became an official stat of professional basketball in 1973 there hasn't been anyone that has reached 1,000 blocks before their 25th birthday. Josh Smith became the first when he blocked a layup attempt by the Thunder's Nenad Krstic on Tuesday, February 2, at the age of 24 years and 59 days.
Josh Smith recorded his first block when he made his NBA debut 32 days before his 19th birthday and has never looked back. He already holds the record as the youngest player to reach 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800 and 900 blocked shots, and his presence in the lane has been well appreciated by his teammates.
The Hawks, as a franchise, have not had a shortage of shot blockers. Tree Rollins, Dikembe Mutombo and Theo Ratliff have all led the league in blocked shots while wearing a Hawks uniform and rank in the top-25 for career blocked shots.
Making Smith's milestone even more impressive is the fact that his defensive skills are not restricted to hanging out in the lane blocking shots. He reached 500 career steals in the Hawks win over Charlotte on January 22, moving him ahead of Spud Webb and into the top-10 for the franchise in that category as well.
Hawks sixth-man Jamal Crawford had played against Josh for years, but didn't fully appreciate his game until joining the team this season. "I knew he was talented. I knew he had all the athletic ability in the world, but he's even better than I thought he was," Jamal said. "His blocks, steals, they create easy baskets for us. They create energy in the crowd, and they create energy in our team. We need that. That is an added bonus that we have, that a lot of teams don't have."
Watching the team play each night Hawks fans (and players) should understand the impact that Josh has when he is in the game even if a block doesn't get added to the stat sheet. "It's almost like an understanding," says fellow big man Al Horford. "Any guy on the team that is guarding the ball, they always feel like if Josh is in the game he going to come over and if not block the shot at least impact the shooter to where he is going to miss the shot."
Blocks may be the dominant stat for the Atlanta native that is already all over the Hawks record books at the age of 24, but as he continues to grow as a complete player his other stats and contributions set him apart from many of the others that have patrolled the interior.