Twitter Feedback: Jason Smith responds

Monday, June 20, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

This is the latest edition of “Twitter Feedback,” a reoccurring Hornets.com feature. In this installment, I let New Orleans reserve Jason Smith directly answer Twitter questions sent to www.twitter.com/Jim_Eichenhofer. I caught up with the three-year NBA veteran at a Hornets and Chevron basketball court dedication at Reverend Peter S. Atkins Memorial Park on Saturday in Covington.

From @juskig: Jason sparked some energy late in games last year. Where does he see his role next year? How does he get more minutes?
Smith: I think my role will be about the same. To do that, I want to be a more consistent player and work hard in the offseason to show the coaches that I am continuing to get better and better.

From @jsgrayson: Jason, many think you’re just a jump shooter on offense and nothing more. Are you working on any post moves or variety to your game?
Smith: I’m working on inside moves, as well as extending my jump-shooting range to about the three-point line.

On to a few of my questions…
From @Jim_Eichenhofer: To follow up on the previous @jsgrayson question, how did you develop your face-up game as a young player? Many tall youth players are told to stay in the paint. Did your coaches stress the importance of having all-around skills?
Smith: My coaches definitely stressed that – to not just be good at one thing. If you want to become a good player, you have to work hard at it day in and day out. Being a big guy, everyone thinks you have to be under the basket, but you can prove to your coach and your friends that if you work hard at different aspects of the game, and are good at them, there’s nobody who won’t give you a chance to show it.

Your NBA rookie highlights with Philadelphia include numerous follow-up dunks and athletic plays around the rim, which we saw glimpses of at times in 2010-11. Do you feel you are all the way back from your knee injury in 2008-09 or is that still progressing?
Smith: No, I’m definitely all the way back. The knee is fine and has progressed absolutely 110 percent more than I expected. It’s perfect and I feel no (effects) from that.

Along with Marco Belinelli, you are one of the team’s two restricted free agents. Do you feel like you have a clear understanding on exactly how restricted free agency works?
Smith: [smiles] Not really. I basically let (my agent) take care of the details. I let him take care of all of the contract negotiation and all of that stuff.

I do know that (as a restricted free agent) if I get a (free-agent contract) offer from (another NBA team), the Hornets can match that offer. But if the Hornets don’t match the offer, then I take the offer from someone else. That’s about the basics of it, and that’s really all I know.

What aspect of your game are you trying to improve most this offseason?
Smith: I’m definitely working on my three-point range, to spread defenses out and create that versatility. I know I have the capability to do it. I’m also working on finishing around the basket. As a big man, you’re expected to do that, so I’m working on that in the offseason.

What do you think was the biggest factor in determining your effectiveness from game to game last season? Aggressiveness? Staying away from fouls? Staying within yourself?
Smith: Staying aggressive. I think I got a lot of support from Coach Williams, with him saying don’t try to do too much, but just stay within the limits of what you know you can do and do well. I think I did that well, and that’s what I’ve got to continue to do. I (also) have to continue to work hard to expand those limits.

Away from basketball, do you have any fun vacation plans over the remainder of the summer?
Smith: I actually am going to a (basketball) camp in Germany that I got invited back to. It’s a way to have an NBA player go overseas. I developed a good relationship with a guy who is a coach over there and now has a school over there. I go to his camps and really just experience something other than the United States. It’s a fun opportunity for me and I love to do it.

It’s working with (German players) anywhere from 5 (years old) who have barely learned how to dribble, to high school players who are going into college. It’s amazing. And it gives me an opportunity to figure out what coaching is like, because the kids look to you for advice on what they can do better.

Is coaching something you’ve thought about doing after your playing career?
Smith: Coaching is something a lot of people have told me I could possibly do, but I just want to feel my way around and see if it’s something for me. If it’s not, it’s not.