By: Clyde Verdin, Hornets.com
Although it took about half of the season to find out what the song would be, whenever the rock band Salivas Click, Click, Boom comes blaring through the New Orleans Arenas massive speakers, theres no doubt that Jason Smith has hit a big shot or free throw.
The 7-foot big man has become the definition of hustle for the Hornets this season, routinely grabbing loose balls, or keeping the offense alive with an out-of-the-blue offensive rebound. Smith finished the regular season with a career-high in games played, free throws made, rebounds, assists and steals, with all that hard work culminating in his 20-point career night against the Wizards on Feb. 1.
Smiths addition to the roster may have had fans scratching their heads heading into training camp, but after having the chance to prove himself, there were more than a few current Hornets players who knew Smith was an X-factor who would make the team competitive down the stretch.
I didnt know what to expect the first few days coming into camp, but it didnt take us long to realize that he can really shoot, Chris Paul said. Hes athletic. I think one thing that goes unnoticed is his basketball knowledge.
Smith is making his second appearance in the NBA playoffs. The Colorado native played in all six games for Philadelphia in a 2008 first-round series against Detroit, averaging 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 13.7 minutes of action.
Being one of the first options off of the bench, Smiths understanding of his role has become his main focus. Knowing hell be counted on in key spots is one thing he believes will be his biggest asset in order to help the team succeed.
I just need to go out there and help the team the best way I can, in any way that I can, to help us win, he said. Not go out there and do things that I havent done all season, stay in my role, and go out there and play as hard as I can.
Another asset the athletic forward provides is keeping opposing defenses off balance, something David West said is very beneficial.
Hes going to be able to stretch the floor and keep those defenders honest, not allowing people to load up and stay attached to Chris for longer than a dribble or two, West said.
Earning minutes sporadically can be tough for most players in Smiths position, but on a team of players who were given only a slim chance to make the playoffs, there are worse positions to be in.
We know its been a pretty up and down season, but to be where we are just shows how hard weve worked to get here, he said. We still have a lot we want to accomplish and have a lot of work to do to get there.
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