Detroit Pistons midseason player grades: Point guards edition

3 of 4
NBA: Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons
NBA: Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons /

Ish Smith

Stat line: 8.1 points, 5.1 assists, shooting splits of .408/.246/.700, true shooting percentage of–you know what, don’t worry about it.

Grade: C+

We knew Ish Smith wasn’t a scorer when he walked in, but he’s truly been one of the worst shooting point guards in the NBA. His shooting is a major liability at a position where an inability to put the ball in the basket from outside six feet has a disastrous impact on your offense. Particularly in the halfcourt, Smith’s shortcomings are exposed on a regular basis.

As seen above, the Pistons have a dreadful scoring rate with Ish Smith on the floor in the halfcourt. Scoring just .712 points per possession in the halfcourt (a scenario in which most teams score in the .95 ppp range) is simply unacceptable and a major hindrance to this team’s prospects.

This isn’t a stylistic thing, nor something that can just be fixed. It doesn’t matter that Smith is a capable distributor and that his teammates like playing with him, there’s simply no way to make up for this shortcoming in the halfcourt. The only way the Pistons can make up for it is to run at every opportunity and get their offense before the defense can get back and set up, and run they do with impunity under Ish’s leadership.

The other thing the Detroit Pistons have done well with Smith on the floor (and it’s one reason that in spite of his shortcomings, the Pistons are 4 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than off) is protect the ball and make it very difficult for their opposition to run on them. Smith has taken great care of the ball, turning it over just 1.4 times per game against 5.1 assists. As a result, the Pistons have the fourth best transition defense, allowing just 10.9 points per game.

In summary, Ish Smith is basically what we thought he was, faults and all, but he’s found a way to fit and be effective, limiting his deficiencies and taking advantage of the strengths at his disposal.