Every injury is an opportunity.
When Jameer Nelson and E'Twaun Moore went down with injuries against Washington, Ish Smith was brought to the forefront. He started against Toronto for the fifth time in his career and started again against Miami. In those two games, Smith averaged 7.5 points per game.
More tellingly, maybe, Smith scored 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting as one of the few bright spots in that blowout loss to the Raptors, his first start of the career.
So far this season, Smith has been hardly noticeable. He has played in just 17 games but in nine of those games he has played 10 or more minutes. That seems to show that when Smith plays, it is more because he has been pressed into duty.
The speedy point guard has done things this way throughout his entire basketball life as Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel writes:
Ishmael 'Ish' Smith had to make it to the NBA the hard way, as if he knew any other way.
'I always came through the back door,' he said.
Smith slaps his knee and laughs.
"High school. Back door. AAU. Back door. At Wake [Forest]. Back door. NBA …
Yep, back door.
As Schmitz writes, Smith has had a long, hard journey. His size has not helped him — he is listed at 6 feet tall — but part of that is he has never been given anything — like say the opportunity.
Orlando gave him some opportunity last year, but some of his defensive shortcomings kept Stan Van Gundy from using him as much as some fans would like. There is still no doubt that Smith can create shots for himself and others it was always on defense that the questions came — and then consistency and avoiding turnovers.
Smith told Schmitz that he is learning the NBA by watching other point guards and gleaning from them.
E'Twaun Moore's injury does not appear to be too serious and it seems like he will be back soon. Smith though has the opportunity to step in to that role and show what he can do.
Here is his chance.