With Dwight Howard gone, the Orlando Magic now begin a brick-by-brick rebuilding process as they attempt to upgrade their overall talent base.
That means trying to develop marginal young NBA players into legitimate contributors and living through their mistakes on the court. One such player who will have the chance to establish himself is backup point guard Ish Smith, whom the team re-signed on Wednesday.
Smith, a lightning-quick guard listed generously at 6 feet tall and 175 pounds, has played on four different teams since graduating from Wake Forest in 2010. In 20 games with Orlando at the end of the 2012 season, he averaged 2.3 points, 1.6 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 8.6 minutes a night.
His speed allows him to be a defensive pest (averaging 2.3 steals per 36 minutes of action in the 2011-12 season) and he has shown a solid feel for running an NBA offense (6.7 assists against 2.5 turnovers per 36 minutes). He has the chance to be a J.J. Barea-type player, but he'll need to improve his perimeter jumper (he hit just 25 percent of his 3-point attempts last year) and overall offensive efficiency (37 percent from the floor) in order to stick in the NBA.
Smith takes over the roster spot created by the departure of veteran point guard Chris Duhon, who was part of the 12-player deal that sent Howard to Los Angeles. This is what a rebuilding process looks like; no one ever said it would be pretty.
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