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Josh Smith and Gerald Wallace Are Chaos

I'm reading FreeDarko's Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac, a lovely Christmas gift from the Official GF of Rufus on Fire's parents (H/T Borders Gift Card). The whole book is a trip, from charts to text to the glorious illustrations. But the segment that, thus far, has spoken to me most clearly is the chapter that focuses on Josh Smith and Gerald Wallace.

In 2006, Smith was hardly controversial. In 2005, Wallace was hardly controversial. But the next season, each had a breakout, and now it's impossible for me to have a rational conversation with most people about either of them. Mind you, it's because those other people have a problem with Smith and Wallace, not because I'm talking crazy talk or anything like that.

FreeDarko provides the jumping off point, and it ties beautifully with Hardwood Paroxysm's recent jaunt through the Joker's philosophy: Smith and Wallace personify chaos, and therefore most people recoil from what they do. David West is an All Star who pretty much gets the same results, only with less effective defense and you can't play him at the three because the quicker half of the league would destroy him off the dribble. Yet, West is an All Star because he plays on a winning team and, most important, he's easily classified as a power forward. Throw in the "undersized" label, and that's as radical as anyone will get.

Smith and Wallace are neither small forwards nor power forwards. They're certainly not guards, though they can lead the break like big guards, and they're certainly not centers, though they both rebound and block shots like the biggest baddest rim defenders (Wallace has dropped off in this department, though he's still the only player on the Bobcats more committed to swatting breakaway layups than Ryan Hollins).

The thing is, we can't look past the runaway train Wallace flying through cameramen after a missed layup. The default reaction of the average hoops fan is to cling to those snippets of confirmation that Smith and Wallace are too flawed to keep around and appreciate. Thus, the maddening insanity of people insisting that Jason Richardson was the Bobcats best player until he got traded. He looked the best on the floor because he runs with a little hop step swagger. He scored the most points. That's undeniable. What's silly is insisting he was the best player, because while I'll argue about Emeka being better and I'll try to see what you argue, I have absolutely no doubt Gerald was better, hands down. Richardson didn't rebound, steal, block, or even assist(!) as well as Gerald did, per minute, and his scoring wasn't so much better to overtake Wallace. And all this was an injury-plagued down year for Crash.

I'm losing focus. Can't get rattled. Get to the point.

If I were to take FD's and HP's thoughts to heart and actually apply them to building and running a pro basketball team, Gerald Wallace and Josh Smith are the hellraisers I'd be salivating over paying 10-12 million dollars per year to play side by side. There would be dunks. There would be blocks. There would be steals. There would be turnovers. There would be chaos.

And so, somewhere, deep in my fantastical fear-cave, there's a scheme cooking to move Jeff Green and Nick Collison for Gerald and Josh Smith for some stupid pittance in order to combine them with Kevin Durant into a Power Rangers-esque megazorg...