Washington Wizards: 3 Players that need to step up with Ish Smith out

Washington Wizards Ish Smith. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Wizards Ish Smith. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ish Smith is out. So, who’s up next for the Washington Wizards?

Even as the Washington Wizards are in the midst of their longest winning streak of the season, they’re still getting bad news. Ish Smith. Last week, the team announced that Ish Smith will miss six to eight weeks with a right quad injury.

Before the injury, Smith averaged 20.7 minutes per game in 19 appearances, which ranks seventh among all Wizards. Smith wasn’t a top contributor, but he was an integral part of the rotation and often the first guard off the bench for the Wizards. And he has statistically been a net positive for the Wizards this season. Per 100 possessions, the Wizards were 1.4 points better on offense, and 11.3(!!) points better on defense with Ish on the floor, per NBA.com.

For what it’s worth, the Wizards have been without Smith for each of their last four wins. They’ve had their longest streak of success this season with Smith on the sidelines. But life without Smith, which will last for six to eight weeks, won’t be an easy adjustment. The Wizards will need some of their other backcourt ballers to step up with Smith out.

Raul Neto needs to step up for the Washington Wizards

With Ish Smith out, Raul Neto is now the one and only backup point guard on the roster, if you don’t count two-way player Cassius Winston, who is currently playing with the Erie BayHawks in the G-League. Since Smith has left the lineup, Neto has seen a pretty significant minutes increase. Raul Neto appeared in 18 of the Wizards’ first 23 games and averaged 18 minutes per game during that span. Since then, in the four games Ish Smith has missed, Neto has seen the floor for 23:48 per game.

In each of the four games since Smith’s injury, Neto has finished with a positive plus/minus and an assist-to-turnover ratio that is better than 2:1. He’ll never be a guy who takes over the game for the Wizards, but if he can continue to give them solid and smart point guard play while Smith is sidelined and beyond, then the Wizards will be fine.