The Philadelphia 76ers have had perhaps the most encouraging off-season that the team have had in the last five years..but it hasn’t been perfect. They are still yet to find their starting Point Guard. The depth chart is littered with guards, but the team are still yet to find a starter..an issue that could really hurt the progress like likes of Okafor and Noel. When you take into account how many assists the best guards in the league rack up and how dominant Noel and “The Dish” were when on the court at the same time, the PG is a crucial hole that needs filling. So in this daily series of articles, we’re going to take a look at every guard on the Roster and see if we could potentially see them start.
We decided to start with Ish Smith, A player who joined the team in February but made an immediate impact and was perhaps one of the best things to come out of last season.
In his short time with the Sixers, Smith started 14 out of the 25 games he played in, and ended up averaging 12 points, 6 assists, 2 boards and 1.3 steals per game. Whilst he wasn’t making headlines across the league, what he was doing was making a case for himself. A case to win the Starting position. That’s something that was important when you take into account just how much talent is currently in the Sixers Depth Chart. After having a journeyman career, playing for eight teams in just five years, this may be the team he settles down with..that could be confirmed if he was awarded the starting role.
Smith is undoubtedly one of the fastest players in the league, making his transition play almost unstoppable. But his problems lie elsewhere. Shooting for just .398 last season and .300 of his Free Throws, Smith is adventurous but not dangerous. He has a weak shot and he struggles with Defense due to his 6″0 frame. The size can’t be helped and it can be argued it plays a role in his low shooting numbers as trying to hit shots over guys 5-6 inches taller than you can be tough. The Sixers have seen something in Smith as the 27 year old picked up the most minutes of his career with the team.
What he lacks in shooting and frame, he makes up for in passing. His partnership with Nerlens Noel excelled last season with the man who has the best hair in the NBA calling Smith “the best guard he has played with”. Which is quite the compliment. The Pick-N-Roll last year was a thrill to watch and whilst signing a 27 year old Point Guard to a long term deal goes agains the Hinkie system as such, the chemistry that Smith has with Noel is only going to grow as seasons go by.
+ Great passer: set up 152 assists in 25 games
+ Can get to the basket effectively
+ Chemistry with a player Hinkie has huge faith in, will aid development.
+ Lacks frame to be a threat at the other end of the court
+ Shooting can be a bit wayward
+ Isn’t the best decision maker on the roster
So whilst Smith isn’t the biggest guy or the most accurate, what he will bring to the team should he get the role as Starter is tuition. If he can work with Jahlil Okafor in the same way that he has with Noel then Hinkie has found the perfect tutor at a cheap price who still has a few years left until he begins to decline. The Sixers really saw qualities that his other teams have failed to envision..but will he be the starter come week one?
We’re going to take a look at Pierre Jackson in tomorrow’s article and see how he fairs against “the Dish”