In the movie Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith plays the role of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesmen hellbent on making a better life for himself and his son. The day before a job interview - a job that could change his life - Garnder spends the night in jail due to unpaid parking tickets. Upon his release early the next morning, Smith rushes to make the interview on time and is not exactly dressed for success.
Executive: “What would you say if a man walked in here with no shirt, and I hired him? What would you say? ”
Gardner: “He must have had on some really nice pants.”
When the Pistons signed Ish Smith over the summer, it didn’t exactly move the needle. In fact, Smith didn’t become a talking point until Reggie Jackson was set to miss six-to-eight weeks with knee tendinitis.
The overwhelming majority decided that since Smith couldn’t shoot, he’d be a liability on offense. It’s true, Smith is far from a dead-eye shooter but he’s got some really nice pants.
Over the first four games - small sample, I know - I’ve yet to see a defense that can keep Smith out of the paint. For a pass-first point guard, that skill is immeasurable.
Typical Smith drive: head up, keeps dribble alive and all options remain open until a perfectly timed pass to Baynes.
Look at where the attention is of all five Hawks:
Obviously, if the choice is there, you want a point guard that can space the floor, however, there are clearly ways around this.
Can’t shoot? How about just run past everyone.
In the season opener against Toronto, Smith seamed a little gun shy about pulling the trigger. Certainly a long two or rushed three point shot is not a good look. When Smith does penetrate, he’s got to remain a threat to score - if you’re not a threat, you’re letting the defense off easy.
Put it this way, close shots equals close (to the rim) rebounds. Who is the arguably the best offensive rebounder in the NBA?
This doesn’t mean fire up shots with no conscience, it means: keep the defense honest and let Andre Drummond do Andre Drummond things.
Ish Smith was brought here to be our backup and due to injury, he’s been thrusted into a starting role. For the Pistons to win while Jackson is away, he doesn’t need to score 20 points and he doesn’t need to shoot beyond the arc. Push the pace, find open teammates and shoot at the appropriate time.
Do those three things and it doesn’t matter what shirt he’s wearing.