2018-19 Season Review: Ish Smith, Detroit’s Jitterbug Off The Bench
The 2018-19 campaign was one full of ups and downs for the Detroit Pistons’ backup point guard Ish Smith. However, one thing is for certain: the man likes to push the ball on offense and get his teammates involved.
The Pistons finished their 82-game regular season with a .500 record of 41-41, however, Smith would only suit up in 56 of those games due to injuries. In the 26 games that Smith was out, the Pistons had a horrific record of 7-19. However, when Smith played, the Pistons were very good, going 33-23. Smith had a net rating of 2.8 during the regular season (110.1 offensive rating, 107.3 defensive rating). Smith also had averages of 8.9 points, 3.6 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game.
Although those numbers aren’t eye-popping compared to some of the NBA’s top tier backup point guards, they are numbers that the Pistons like to see. Smith is not known as a high volume scorer, as he holds a career true shooting percentage of 47.1 percent, with 84 percent of his shots coming from two-point range at an average of 10.9 feet from the hoop.
Even though Smith is not the most prolific shooter, he makes up for his lackluster shooting with his quickness and ability to draw the defense in, leading to wide open shots for himself and teammates.
This ability to create space for himself and others is a huge reason why Smith had the third highest offensive rating on the team this past season at 110.8, only behind Andre Drummond and Wayne Ellington.
Smith’s three-year, $18 million contract comes off the books this offseason. The Pistons could retain his rights, placing an $11.4 million cap hold on Detroit’s cap space. Detroit would then be able to sign Smith to a deal using his Bird Rights, around $7 million annually. However, Detroit could also renounce his rights in hopes of signing him on a smaller deal.
There is no doubt that Smith would want to resign in Detroit this off-season, as he has grown fond of the city, his teammates, and his coaches.
“I talked to Coach Casey throughout the year and he told me he’d love to have me back; I’d love to be back,” Smith said to MLive’s Ansar Khan. “Previous years, I put up better statistics, but this year I think the impact was greater, resulting in wins. That’s a tribute to him, allowing me to be me, play with confidence, play with good flow, and my teammates just kind of allowed me to be me and that’s not always the easiest thing for a player. Hopefully, I rewarded them by giving them everything I got and hopefully it results in a win.”
Smith is a fan favorite in Detroit and someone who the Pistons would love to have back on their roster. He has shown that when healthy, he is an important piece to Detroit’s puzzle.
*All stats are from basketball-reference.com and stats.nba.com
Featured image: Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports