Despite being in the running for the first overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers have the pieces in place to be successful in the coming years. One of the potential options for the team has been Ish Smith, who is a two-time member of the 76ers.
However, this time the journeyman guard seems to have found a home in the City of Brotherly Love.
Smith isn’t going to be an All-Star in his NBA career, that’s almost a certainty. However, his impact on the 76ers has been All-Star like, as he has provided Philadelphia with a stable point guard option, something the team lacked for the first quarter of the season.
Philadelphia shuffled through numerous point guards before Smith. T.J. McConnell and Isaiah Cannan were just some of the options the 76ers rolled out on a nightly basis. However, not one of the aforementioned guards has provided the team with the overall offensive game of Smith.
For the season, Smith leads the team in assists with 7.3 per game, placing him in the top-10 amongst all guards. His 14.8 points place him second on the team, trialing only Jahlil Okafor.
Smith’s versatility is exactly what the Sixers needed to spark their lineup.
McConnell was an excellent passer, but he was simply not an effective scorer. Cannan was quite the opposite, as he could score, but didn’t display efficient assist numbers. Smith is able to combine both McConnell’s and Cannan’s strengths.
The most telling sign of Smith’s impact on the team has been the overall record of the Sixers. Before he arrived, Philadelphia maintained a putrid 1-30 record. But with Smith on the roster, the team has gone 7-22. And while that might not seem like a massive improvement, it’s significantly better.
Philadelphia starter, Nerlens Noel, is a strong believer on Smith’s impact of the team. He stated his desire for Philadelphia to re-sign Smith in the offseason, telling Philly.com the following.
“He has to come back,” Noel said. “He has to. He’s an important piece to this and why we are so playing so well these past couple of months. And he’s helped us at the point guard position, you know, just setting guys up in the post position.
“So he’s got to come back.”
If that wasn’t enough of an endorsement for Smith, take into consideration the accounts of former Pelicans teammate, Anthony Davis, who told the media the following before a matchup of the their respective teams.
“We all liked Ish,” Davis said. “Everything he did, he pushed the pace for us, uptempo style of play, created shots for everybody and was a pass-first point guard who wanted to get everybody involved. We definitely miss him. It was definitely fun playing with him.”
Whether or not Philadelphia takes Noel’s desire to re-sign Smith into account, it’s apparent that teammates from all across the NBA have strong opinions of Smith. At the very least, he’s a reliable backup option for a contending team.
Although, Philly is far away from contention, it doesn’t hurt to give him an extended look next season.