Apr 16, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Ish Smith (3) high fives forward Marcus Morris (15) as a timeout is called against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Phoenix Suns defeated the Sacramento Kings 104-99. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns Player Profiles: Ish Smith


Stats:|14.4 MPG| 3.7 PPG| 1.8 RPG|2.6 APG| 0.2 BPG| 0.7 SPG,|423 FG%|.043 3P%

Ishmael “Ish” Smith played on five different NBA teams over the course of six years before coming to Phoenix. He served diligently as the Suns backup guard throughout the year, stepping into a more prominent role when Eric Bledsoe had to sit with injury, and stepped back gracefully after Bledsoe returned.  He constantly bounced from a string of DNPs to an 8-7-5 night or two. Smith was one of the guys whose energy and spirit were modeled off the team he played for

Season Arc

Ish Smith came to Phoenix from the Bucks in the deal that sent Caron Butler off. Smith wasn’t really expected to do much and was never a consistent part of the Suns rotation early on. He would have a couple of nights where he would put up a few points and couple of assists in 15-20 minutes, and then for a couple of nights he wouldn’t leave the bench. His lowest point was the month of December, where he averaged only 5.8 MPG. However, after the Bledsoe injury, Smith saw his role grow immensely. His best month was February, where he averaged 19.6 MPG and 6.8 PPG. Smith even got the opportunity to start on February 26th at Utah, due to both Dragic and Bledsoe being injured.  After the two came back, Smiths role took a much smaller decline than many people may have expected. He became a permanent staple to join in the backcourt when Bledsoe or Goran Dragic needed a breather. Throughout the season, Smith filled his role with the best of intentions. He was always eagerly awaiting opportunities, and he made good on them.

Best game

Smith’s night to remember came on February 21 in the Suns’ 106-85 trouncing of the San Antonio Spurs. Smith had a career high 15 points on an efficient 7-9 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.

Strengths

Ish Smith is a passer first, but he also plays tenacious defense, and knows how to rebound exceptionally well for his height. He gives 100% every time he steps on the floor, and can make a flashy layup from time to time.

Development

Smith really stepped up and cushioned the impact of Bledsoe’s injury by using his passing to facilitate the Suns offense.  His talent improvement isn’t so easily measurable, but his increased contributions showed exactly what he was capable of.

Weaknesses 

Ish Smith is an awful outside shooter. He shot 1-25 from deep this season, and he has a systematic problem with long range shooting. That’s really his only glaring drawback. On most other things, he is serviceable at worst. The more he recognizes that his role in not as a scorer, the more efficient he can become.

Future with the team

Smith has a team option for 2014, and it’s a genuine toss up whether the Suns will take it. On one hand, backup guards come and go routinely, but Smith has a persona and talents that specific fit what the Suns are looking for.

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