It’s About Find Your Niche: Sometimes in the NBA, you just have to find your niche. For Hornets big man Jason Smith, he has found a role in New Orleans that fits his skill set and he’s having tremendous success.
Smith is averaging 17 minutes a game for the Hornets and knocking in 8.1 points and grabbing just over 3.6 rebounds per contest from the bench and, as of late, has become the spark plug for the Hornets’ recent surge.
“All I try to do is go out there and work hard,” Smith said to HOOPSWORLD. “Do what the coaches ask of you and really that’s what you’re going to do and that’s your job. To go out there and work hard, play hard, really go out there and just do your job.”
Smith has joined Ryan Anderson in coming off the bench for the Hornets and with their ability to knock down big shots and stretch the floor, both players are seeing lots of open looks.
“I think it’s great that we got a good chemistry and continue to play off of each other,” explained Smith. “He can get a shot and the defense will really key up on him and then he sets a screen and then I get a shot, that’s great chemistry right there. If they want to take us both out, we move the ball and somebody else will get a shot. It’s great to just have that flow on offense like that with Ryan and it creates such a tough match-up for teams.”
Smith has one more non-guaranteed year on his deal making him an interesting free agent candidate or trade chip, but he says he really doesn’t try to think about the contract part of the business.
“I’m just happy to have a job,” said a smiling Smith. “Happy to be out here playing with these guys, we have a great group of guys, great coaching staff. I don’t think about that stuff at all, if it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m just happy to have a job in New Orleans. New Orleans is a great city and I love it here.”
The Hornets have won three straight since getting Eric Gordon back in the lineup, which has completely changed the complexion of the Hornets as a team. Smith has scored in double figures in three of the Hornets last four games, and kicked in 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots last night against the Houston Rockets after going 4-for-4 from the field against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday and 6-of-10 from the field against both the Mavericks and Houston earlier in the month.
“We can be very good,” Smith said of this Hornets team. “But we can’t think about how good we can be. We got to prepare, prepare ourselves to win. We got a lot of talent; there are a lot of people who say we have a lot of potential. It’s not that we have to live up to that potential, we have to continue to work hard every day and if things happen, things happen. Whatever you get out of it, it’s the work that you put into it, that’s really the main aspect.”
Smith is in his fifth year in the NBA and may have found a niche for his game in New Orleans. The Hornets will have the chance to keep him next season if they hang on to his $2.5 million non-guaranteed contract. If Hornets opt to go another direction, Smith could be an interesting trade chip or more importantly a dark horse free agent.
The Hornets will have the chance to keep him next season if they hang on to his $2.5 million non-guaranteed contract. If Hornets opt to go another direction, Smith could be an interesting trade chip or more importantly a dark horse free agent.