As he prepares to enter his 10th season in the league, let’s take a look back at ex-Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ish Smith’s wild NBA career thus far.
Since Smith entered the league in 2010, we’ve (collectively) had two different presidents, seven different NBA Champions, and like a hundred different players have suited up in the Sixers’ red, white, and blue – hyperbolic sure, but not by all that much.
But 10/22/19 also marks another much smaller yet still significant milestone in the world of basketball: Ish Smith will have officially suited up for his 11th NBA team.
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That’s right, with a chance to step in and start in place of John Wall for the Washington Wizards, Smith will become the first player in NBA history to suit up for 11 different teams in less than 10 seasons (as per @LegionHoopsRoss on Twitter).
And what a career it’s been.
After going undrafted following a four-year career at Wake Forest as Chris Paul‘s heir, Smith played for nine different teams over his first six seasons in the league – averaging roughly two teams a season from 2010-16.
While the 6-foot-tall point guard has seldom found opportunities to start consistently over his 556 games in the NBA – with his most starts (50) coming with the Sixers in 2015-16 – Smith has remained gainfully employed without a genuinely elite skill.
In the modern NBA, that’s rare.
A career 7.4 points, 3.8 assists, and .7 steals a game player, Smith isn’t a particularly effective offensive performer, and can really only attempt to cover one position on the defensive end of the court – emphasis on the word attempt.
However, Smith has consistently found work, and will in all likelihood continue to find work because of his leadership both on and off the court, a factor that’s almost impossible to quantify by even the most advanced stat.
When the Coleangelos came to power after Sam Hinkie‘s final stand, Philly’s new front office went out of their way to reacquire Ish from the New Orleans Pelicans, as they wanted to accelerate ‘The Process’ along with a professional point guard running the show.
Though the team played fairly well in Smith’s second (and final?) tenure with the club, albeit to the tune of an 8-42 record, just like oh so many times before in his then-half decade-plus career, Smith elevated his team to a new level – which wasn’t saying much for the mid-2010s Sixers – and was subsequently upgraded in free agency for a better option (in this case Jerryd Bayless… ugh).
But don’t feel too bad for Smith, as for his efforts, he’s been rewarded hansomly to the tune of almost $18 million, with $12 more on the way from the Wizards from 2019-21.
Will it all work out? Can Smith bridge the Wizards through Wall’s injury and will the team to compete for an eight seed in the Eastern Conference? Only time will tell, but as the NBA continues to change from season to season, it’s nice to know Ish Smith remains as an NBA North Star of sorts.
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