Pelicans Offseason Update: Jason Smith

Leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, will provide a player-by-player examination of the New Orleans Pelicans, with input from various sources. We’ll review the 2012-13 campaign of each New Orleans player who appeared in at least half of the team’s games, while also looking ahead to the inaugural 2013-14 Pelicans season. continues its offseason updates by profiling Jason Smith, who proved to be one of the team’s most valuable reserves prior to a season-ending shoulder injury that sidelined him in March:

Jason Smith
Key averages: 8.2 points, 3.6 rebounds in 51 games (all off the bench).

It’s fitting that Smith is the only New Orleans player who has been with the team during all three seasons of the Monty Williams era. As much as any member of the Pelicans, the 7-footer personifies the coach’s emphasis on a team-first attitude and all-out hustling style of play. Unfortunately for Smith, his breakneck approach to the game sometimes leads to bumps and bruises, as was the case when he initially injured his shoulder while blocking a dunk attempt by Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. Though Smith admirably played through a torn labrum for two-plus months, it negatively affected his range of motion. Williams tried everything he could to monitor Smith’s minutes and guard against the physical difficulty the player was experiencing, but ultimately decided to shut down Smith for the season on March 1. In his 51 appearances, the fifth-year NBA player proved to be highly efficient, often producing double-digit scoring games despite seldom playing more than 25 minutes. He had 15 games of 10-plus points, yet never logged more than 29 minutes all season. He finished fourth on New Orleans in PER (16.84), boosted by stellar shooting percentages of 49.0 from the field and 84.3 from the foul line.

The epitome of Smith’s high-production-in-low-minutes season occurred on Nov. 3, when he somehow managed to total 16 points and eight rebounds in just 15 minutes at Chicago. During an impressive early-season road win over the Bulls, Smith was 4-for-5 from the field and 8-for-8 on free throws. In other words, he scored 3.2 points per shot from the floor. He also blocked two shots.

“As you go along, you learn what your niche is and I think I have a very nice niche here. I’m just trying to play hard and aggressive. That’s what I do. It kind of began in college. I think it mostly came from the coaches, saying you’ve got to work harder. From Day 1 with (New Orleans), I’ve been trying to execute our defensive concepts. I try not hurt any of the guys from other teams or our own guys (in practices), but I always go at 100 percent."- Jason Smith “What sets Jason (Smith) apart from a lot of bigs in the league is that he plays both ends of the floor as far as rebounding the ball and covering for his teammates on defense. And then when he is knocking a shot down, it makes it look even better.” - Monty Williams What was the most impressive aspect of Jason Smith’s 2012-13 season?

@iamKimmieHo: He’s the glue of the team. I love his energy off the bench. He provides a spark when we needed a pick-and-pop play with Greivis Vasquez.

@MadLaserGaming: How every time Blake Griffin went up to dunk, Jason Smith was like “DENIED!!!” #Getthatjunkouttahere

@cdude9590: Playing with the torn labrum.

@paulshuler1: His hustle.