What’s Ish Smith been up to lately? Well, what has Ish not been up to lately? That’s the better question.
The Pistons have won six of their last nine games heading into the NBA All-Star break. A good chunk of that success is because of Ish.
It seems that more minutes for Ish means better ball movement and team engagement — and if the recent string of games is any indication, it means a better chance of winning ball games. Ish has put up seven double-digit scoring efforts in the last nine games while shooting 58 percent from the field during that span. Also during this span Ish’s assists numbers are almost exactly what they are for the season (4.7 in the last nine games, 4.8 for the season. Compare those to his January assist average of 2.8). And kudos should be given to Stan Van Gundy for being somewhat more flexible in his rotations over the past few weeks. Stan is giving Ish opportunities to finish games when Reggie just doesn’t have the good stuff.
On the play of Ish, I think most level-headed Pistons fans have come around to the fact that he’s a solid backup point guard and probably worth every penny of the contract he signed. His limits are known and can be taken advantage of at times (such is the existence of most any backup in the NBA), however his strengths give more than a few teams fits. When Ish sticks to his strengths, this current Pistons team is a little less reliant on the very up-and-down nature of Reggie Jackson (I’m referencing this season, mostly). Ish being good Ish means more stability for the team, although it’s probably true that the team ceiling is a little lower with Ish playing lots of minutes instead of Reggie. Let’s not lose sight though, Reggie is indeed capable of more quality efforts like he had against the Mavericks just a few days ago. Come on, Reggie! More of that! Essentially, if the Pistons are to ‘upset’ anybody in the playoffs this season, it’s going to be in part because Reggie Jackson plays more games like he did against the Mavs.
But, if it seems things continue heading towards the Pistons looking like an “entirely different team with Smith running the show”, as Mophatt1 wrote in his Pistons High / Low against Toronto piece, then Stan and the Pistons have even more of situation on their hands. Let’s see what transpires after the All-Star break.
Below are some Ish Smith clips from a couple recent wins. I’ll keep them mostly positive.
Yes, this is Ish’s game. It’s exciting and creative (wild too), but while he’s creative at times it can be to his detriment as well. Make no question about it, the closer he is to the basket the less Pistons fans cringe. Ish likes to shoot, we get that. Like I said, it’s usually exciting when Ish is going to the basket and looks to put something up. Really, who doesn’t like to shoot the rock? For Ish, closer is better.
Ish hits these tough shots here and there but sometimes he falls in love with them (like earlier in the season when he was bricking so many shots — playing more minutes with Reggie’s injury). It’s a perfect ‘oh no... don’t shoot it... oh yes, nice man, smooooth’ moment. I guess Detroit just needs to live with it for now as Ish is playing pretty good and smart ball overall.
This is bad Ish; the announcer says all that needs to be said. I’ll say more though — with no shot blocker in the game for the Mavs, he should have headed to the basket, as I think he had just enough time and could’ve lost Wesley Matthews anyway. Maybe Ish was a bit gassed. If so, give the ball up if possible.
Though we know it’s not all about putting points on the board with Ish — rather it’s about dishing those purdy dimes when he slices through defenses and makes guys scramble. It’s a dish from Ish, indeed!
Ish could’ve easily taken the fairly wide open three that Toronto gave him. Instead Ish smartly decided to go with the better play and that was to get it to KCP. Maybe I’m going to the cliche bank here, but I believe the play is an indication of a point guard that ‘gets it’. Even though KCP was 1-11 from downtown in the game up to that point, Ish knew who the money man is from that area and at that time of the game. And also see how Ish immediately curls back in the play for the rebound. Good stuff all around.
Bonus clip is of Ish (Ishmael) at Wake Forest, where he finds Al-Farouq Aminu for the flush.
And if you haven’t listened to it yet, fire up the latest DBB podcast — some Ish Smith playing time talk in there, plus a lot more. Get to it, y’all.
Enjoy the All-Star break.