Washington Wizards: Ish Smith and Isaiah Thomas make a promising point guard committee

Washington Wizards Ish Smith Isaiah Thomas (Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Ish Smith Isaiah Thomas (Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images) /

This offseason, the Washington Wizard turned to Ish Smith and Isaiah Thomas knowing they’d be without John Wall. In the new duo’s debut, they ran things pretty well.

The Washington Wizards did not have a lot to work with this offseason when trying to fill their gaping point guard hole. John Wall, as we all know, will not be much help to the Wizards this season, if any. However, a recent look into his rehab has fas hopeful. Tomas Satoransky‘s time in D.C. had run its course. The former Wizards point guard is now with the Chicago Bulls after getting a raise via free agency.

With limited resources and a large need at the point guard position, the Wizards got crafty this offseason. They signed veteran backup point guard Ish Smith, who had burned the Wizards more than once throughout his nine-year, ten-team career. Smith didn’t come super cheap, but for two-years, $12 million, it’s a good deal for a serviceable point guard.

But Ish Smith alone wasn’t enough, and the Wizards took a real gamble by signing Isaiah Thomas to a one-year vet-minimum. It was a high-risk, high-reward signing that showed it’s risky nature sooner than later. Thomas missed the season’s first two games with a thumb injury.

However, in the third game of the season, the second game of an early-season road back-to-back, the Wizards got a glimpse of what their point guard gamble could payout.

Smith struggled in his first two games with the Wizards. However, with Thomas in the lineup, Smith had his best game yet of the short three-game season. Smith finished with 19 points—behind only Bradley Beal (25) and Davids Bertans (23)—five rebounds, four assists, and a steal in 28 minutes of action. His highest scoring night was also his most efficient night, too. Smith wasted few shots, going 9-13 from the field and 2-3 from three.

Fans had to wait a bit for Thomas’ highly-anticipated season debut. The game versus San Antonio was Thomas’s first regular-season game in over 200 days.

There was some visible rust early on, including an airball. Thomas, though, was undeterred and finished the night with 16 points, three rebounds, and five assists in just 20 minutes off of the bench. Even with a few early misses, Thomas kept shooting and ended the night with ten three-point attempts. He made four of them.

Between the two point guards, the Wizards got 35 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists in 48 combined minutes. The pair went 14-27 from the field, and 6-13 from three. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Even in a loss, Thomas finished with a positive single game plus/minus (+2). He was one of only four players to do so, three of whom (Thomas, Admiral Schofield, and Moritz Wagner) came off the bench.

In his return, Thomas looked comfortable leading a second-unit that performed well thanks to contributions from Bertans and Wagner. Thomas might not be the starting-caliber point guard he once was, but he looked more than able to lead a dominant second unit. The starters will certainly appreciate that.

And they’ll also appreciate Smith, their fellow starter, if he can continue to share the scoring and playmaking responsibilities with Beal. Beal slumped through the first two games as teams targeted him on the offensive end and forced the younger, less experienced Wizards to beat them. As Smith and others helped carry the offense in San Antonio, Beal was able to loosen up and looked a little bit more like himself, going 3-8 from distance on his way to a 25-point performance.

dark. Next. John Wall's Road to Recovery: Update

The Wizards knew there was no way they were getting a true replacement for John Wall, especially with all the money they didn’t have to spend this summer. But an emphasis on smart, veteran point guard play could be enough to hold them over while Beal stands solo in the spotlight on the offensive end.

If the pair can keep up the type of productivity we saw in San Antonio, they’ll be able to do more than just keep the Wizards afloat in Wall’s absence.