Though the Wizards lost to the Mavericks on Saturday, they got some good news with the return of both Davis Bertans and Ish Smith following long injury absences. Both players should help Washington's struggling offense as they cling to fading hopes of making the playoffs at season's end.
For Smith, it was his first game since Feb. 12. He was dealing with a quadriceps issue which forced him to miss 24 games and nearly two months. He was out so long that his last game predated the Wizards' brief surge before the All-Star break.
Smith has been sidelined for much of this season for the Wizards. He's played in only 20 of their 48 games.
Having sat out for most of the Wizards' losing this season, he's returned to them with a positive outlook despite the fact the team has now lost 11 of their last 14 games.
"As bad as it looks right now, we’ve still got a great, great chance to get in," Smith said, noting how sub-.500 teams can make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
"We’ve just gotta get our confidence back and get our swagger back," Smith said.
Smith's best skill is pushing the pace and adding speed to the Wizards' offense. He's generally tasked with being the quarterback of the second unit and breaking down defenses off the dribble to create open shots for his teammates.
The Wizards could certainly use some help offensively. They are 23rd in the NBA in offensive rating (108.3) despite being 11th in points per game (113.5).
Their biggest issue is shooting threes, which Smith himself won't help with. But getting into the paint off the dribble, he can open up the floor for other guys in the second unit.
It will be interesting to see how head coach Scott Brooks uses Smith alongside his other backup point guard, Raul Neto. Due to Smith's injuries this season and Russell Westbrook sitting out back-to-backs earlier in the year, Brooks hasn't had to sort out minutes between Smith and Neto yet, but he could have trouble finding them both playing time. On Saturday, he used some three point guard lineups with Smith and Neto on the floor with Westbrook.
Smith is unlikely to move the needle for the Wizards in any major way. But he should help them by adding depth and a potential spark on offense, where they need it most.
"Hopefully I can catch up [soon]," Smith said.