With the Phoenix Suns’ season over, it’s time to take a fond look back on the 2013-14 season and examine how everyone performed. As the Suns became just the fourth team in NBA history to win 48 games and miss the playoffs, there’s plenty of optimism to be had for this young team’s future. So far we’ve covered Archie Goodwin‘s first NBA season, Shavlik Randolph‘s short stint with the Suns and Miles Plumlee‘s impressive potential. Today, we take a look at backup point guard Ishmael Smith.
When Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough traded Caron Butler to the Milwaukee Bucks in the offseason, most NBA fans were confused. Why trade a potential contributor at the small forward position for two relative unknowns who were unlikely to ever log minutes for Phoenix? Even in a tanking season, it seemed like McDonough was taking it a step too far. Viacheslav Kravtsov and Ish Smith? Yeah, okay. That’s cute, Suns.
Kravtsov joined the Suns’ dearly departed when he was waived at the beginning of March, but Smith was thrust into the backup point guard role from day one since Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe split time starting together in the backcourt. Smith didn’t exactly draw Reggie Jackson-like attention from defenses, but he proved himself to be a serviceable backup and dazzled us at times with his blurring speed. Smith has a team option and the Suns would only owe him $992,000 next season if they take it. Smith becomes a restricted free agent after that, so even if the Suns decide to keep him for 2014-15, he’ll have to show a lot next season for him to have a long-term future in Phoenix, but there is some untapped potential here.