So this offseason the Nets tried to put that weakness to rest once and for all by drafting the 18-year-old Derrick Favors. The problem, of course, is that he is 18, not ready to start without risking suffering some permanent debilitating emotional meltdown, and thus the Nets are back to square one, needing a short-term starting PF. Now, before we start clamoring for the return of Jason Collins (yes, he is a free agent), there's someone else available: Craig Smith.
Smith would seem to offer exactly what the Nets need: A hardworking center that can box out and rebound, but won't take touches away from Brook Lopez and wouldn't seem likely to complain when Favors gradually starts to eat into his playing time. Smith is a solid rebounder, especially on the defensive end, and scores enough around the basket to generate an above-average offensive rating of around 112 (that is, he scored roughly 112 points per 100 possessions). Smith could start the season at around 25 minutes a game, be down to 15 by the end of the year, and go into next season as a ten-minute-a-night backup, and no one would expect him to complain about it. The guy isn't a troublemaker, and seems to be a team player. What's more, he likely wouldn't cost very much, and the Nets need to spend a few million dollars anyway to get up to the league-mandated minimum team salary commitment.
This is a guy who knows his limitations and won't try to do what he isn't capable of: Last season, for instance, he attempted 335 shots underneath the basket (making roughly 61% of them), but only 55 shots from anywhere else (making, well, less than 61%, and let's leave it at that). He doesn't create many turnovers (about two and a half per 40 minutes), and rarely commits more than a few fouls during 20 to 25 minutes of work. Players generally want their roles defined. Each team will typically have a couple of primary offensive weapons, a couple of secondary options, and a couple of guys who rarely use up possessions, but whose job is to do other things that can lead to team success. Because of Brook Lopez, the Nets can afford for one of those types of players to be their starting PF.
In sum, I think that Craig Smith would adeuqately fill the Nets needs, while not hindering Favors' development. and being the sort that could transition smoothly into a decent backup PF. From his twitter account, it seems as though Smith is fascinated by the idea. Would Smith lead the team to the playoffs? Probably not, but that isn't the point. He would fill a hole with qualities the Nets need, without reducing their flexibility in the event that an impact player becomes available through trade over the next few months.
So here is one vote for the Nets to sign Craig Smith and become the last cog of what is shaping up to be a young, exciting team.
Join the "Sign Craig Smith" movement today!