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2010-11 Season in Review: Jason Smith
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
June 16, 2011

Hornets.com continues its look back at the 2010-11 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:

WHAT HAPPENED:

A year removed from his recovery from a knee injury that caused him to miss the entire 2008-09 season, it was difficult to predict what kind of impact Smith would make in his first year with the Hornets. The 7-footer put together a stellar rookie season for Philadelphia in 2007-08, but some of his impressive athleticism had decreased when he returned to the court in 2009-10.

Ultimately, Smiths role with New Orleans fluctuated at various points of 2010-11, partly dependent upon some factors that were beyond his control. Smith went from a prominent member of the rotation early in the season, to receiving a handful of DNPs due to coachs decision in March, to returning to the mix late following David Wests season-ending injury.

Smith factored greatly into New Orleans franchise-best 8-0 start, playing at least 20 minutes six times during the winning streak. Over the teams next 74 regular season games, Smith exceeded the 20-minute plateau a total of just 10 times. The Colorado State products perimeter shooting ability and relentlessness on the boards provided the bench with a big spark, after many basketball analysts had questioned New Orleans depth.

Jason has been outstanding, Chris Paul described of Smith in November. He may not be a guy (opponents) talk about much on the scouting report, but I guarantee you hes going to be on there now. We know what hes capable of. Night in and night out, hes producing for us.

Partly due to the acquisition of fellow frontcourt reserve Carl Landry in February, Smiths playing time gradually decreased to the point where he received four DNPs during one six-game stretch. However, after West was sidelined for the remainder of the season on March 24, Smith appeared in each of the final 11 regular season games and all six playoff contests.

In between his early contributions as a backup and his late-season return to the lineup, he started six times, doubling his NBA career total.

Jasons a guy that nobody really anticipated would play this well, Monty Williams said midway through the regular season. He had a great preseason, but we didnt know if that would carry over into the regular season Jason is full of energy.

BEST GAME:

Two days after starting center Emeka Okafor sustained a left oblique injury that knocked Okafor out of the lineup, Smith delivered arguably the best game of his NBA career. On Feb. 1 vs. Washington, he racked up a career-best 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting, highlighting a 97-89 triumph. Facing the Wizards athletic frontline, Smith started quickly, tallying the Hornets first six points and throwing down three dunks in the first quarter.

It was an excellent example of Smith playing to his strengths, something the coaching staff stressed frequently throughout the season. What we dont want Jason to do is get outside his box, Williams said. We dont want him putting the ball on the floor and getting charges, turning over the ball. If he doesnt have the shot, just swing it, or go into a dribble handoff and try to get a shot on the other side (of the floor).

WHAT'S NEXT:

Smith is one of New Orleans two restricted free agents (Marco Belinelli is the other) this offseason. As a restricted free agent, the Hornets have the ability to retain Smiths services by matching any offer he receives from another NBA team.



ADDITIONAL 2010-11 SEASON IN REVIEWS
DAVID WEST AARON GRAY EMEKA OKAFOR
QUINCY PONDEXTER CARL LANDRY CHRIS PAUL
JARRETT JACK JASON SMITH TREVOR ARIZA
MARCO BELINELLI WILLIE GREEN




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