I couldn’t express his greatness in column form, so I wrote a poem. I hope you’ll oblige.
Dim the lights please.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhem. Ahhhem. Ahhhhh.
Here we go:
Dreary. Locker room smell. Sweaty socks.
He walks in, authoritative. A Pelican no more.
Scored 14 points in first game back. Tripled win total.
There’s now hope where the bell tolls.
Hope, and hoagies.
That piece was dedicated to the man, the myth, the legend. Perhaps the greatest Phildelphia 76er in history, or the only man in NBA history (probably) who has quadrupled a team’s win total in his first six games with the team.
Of course, we’re talking about Ish Smith. The five-year vet, who has spent time with nine different teams, has led the Sixers to THREE wins since he was acquired from New Orleans on Christmas Eve. He’s a Holiday miracle.
Smith is averaging 17 points and 7.8 assists with Philly, and if I’m not mistaken, there were games before he got there when the Sixers didn’t even score 17 points.
Sure, he’s completely screwing up the Sixers’ plan to lose as many games as possible this season, and if the team doesn’t end up with Ben Simmons because this dude singlehandedly carried them to 11 wins instead of eight, slightly decreasing their number of lottery balls, well then … Sixers fans are going to be pissed.
But for right now, Ish Smith is like Philly’s Michael Jordan. He’s reminded fans what basketball looks like, that it can be beautiful, and that the guys in the white jerseys are getting paid, too. (OK, actually, maybe don’t think about that).
Sixers fans probably want to touch Ish Smith sometimes, just to make sure he’s real.
He’s like poetry in motion.
Speaking of that, dim the lights again. I’ve got a one-liner that’s going to make love to your eardrums.
Ahhhhhem. Ahhhh. AHEM. Here it is:
(Bongos playing again)
On to the rankings.
1. Draymond Green, F, Warriors: We’re going to put Draymond here not for anything he did this week, just because of the fact that the Dubs actually lost a game without him. To the Nuggets. Casual fans don’t understand how good this guy is – and that not having him on the court may be almost as impactful as not having Steph Curry out there. He’s that good, averaging 15 points, 10 boards and seven assists for the season and on track for his first All-Star appearance.
2. C.J. McCollum, G, Blazers. I remember when C.J. was at Lehigh, and his Mountain Hawks upset Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Back then, Coach K said McCollum was “the best player on the court.” That’s pretty cool stuff. Like he said last week, he’s always been good. He falls to No. 2 this week after hitting a little shooting slump, though. He’s at 36 percent for January.
3. Stephen Curry, G, Warriors: What else can you say about him, other than the fact that he’s Golden State’s Ish Smith? As hard as it is to believe, last year’s MVP has improved his numbers across the board, so much so that it’s impossible to keep him off this list. He’s shooting a career-high 50 percent from the floor and pouring in a career-best 29.7 points in under 34 minutes.
4. Gary Harris, G, Nuggets: The Michigan State product has earned a starting role with the Nuggets this season, and he’s playing 30 minutes a night, averaging 10.8 points. He plays good defense and has a much-improved shot (46 percent this season). Harris also went for 19 in the Nuggs’ win over the Warriors on Wednesday.
5. Jimmy Butler, G, Bulls. OK, so we didn’t put Ish in the top five after I just wrote a poem about him. But let’s be honest, he’s not really that improved, it’s just that the Sixers stink. Plus, we had to show the reigning MIP some love after he scored 83 points in two games. Not to mention the fact that he broke MJ’s Bulls record for most points in a half earlier this month (40) in a win over the Raptors. Oh, and the Bulls beat Philly, behind Butler’s 53, on Thursday.