(Big C) When you think about impact players in the league sometimes you have to look beyond the starting lineup. While the Knicks turn things around in the basketball world Knicks’ shooting guard J.R. Smith is becoming a force to reckon with. Coming into the season, all eyes were on Carmelo Anthony, Stoudemire, Felton and Chandler to make things happen. Now critics are seeing that J.R. Smith is an important piece to the Knicks roster. Last season fans got a short glimpse of the potential of J.R. Smith and what he could do on the court.
During the offseason Knicks coach Mike Woodson took the time to get Smith to raise his game to the next level on both ends of the court. Before the season started Mike Woodson said J.R. was a sleeper and he expected big things from the Knicks shooting guard. Smith now seems to be focused on winning and doing whatever it takes to win games, rebounding, or providing that extra scoring punch off the bench, he’s doing it.
When people think of teams they tend to only think about the starting lineup and not the impact of the bench players. Outside of Jamal Crawford (16.5 points a game) there aren’t many players in the NBA that are making an impact off the bench like J. R. Smith (17.4 points a game).
Before this season J.R. Smith was labeled a player that only cared about getting his, you know the “Chucker” a.k.a. the “I Got to Get Mine" guy. This season it is clear has made some improvements. that J.R. plays not just to score but to block shots, get steals, and even scoring clutch shots.
In recent games J.R. Smith got the Knicks back into the game when the Knicks are trailing behind or just when they need to get into a flow offensively. He is the glue guy when Carmelo Anthony is out or is having an off game that provides scoring.
With Smith getting back his shooting touch he is becoming a tough player to guard. He has the ability to shoot deep from the outside, hit the step-back-jumper, or crossover his man to get to the hole. The problem is we need to see more drives and less shooting from 3.
On any given night J.R. Smith can look like one of the league's best, not just off the bench but on the court. Smith is averaging 5 rebounds to go along with his 17.4 points 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals a game.
With Felton in a slump and Amar’e being out J.R. Smith is quickly becoming a serious candidate for the 6th man of the year. J.R. Smith already plays a high energy game but he just needs to take it up a notch in some areas...
Driving more to the hole
When J.R. drives to the hole this opens up this midrange shot and makes him a tough cover for any player to guard. Plus it puts Knick opponents in foul trouble.
Better shot selection
Smith needs to stop forcing shots and take more midrange shots when he is guarded one-on-one.
Taking fewer 3 point shots, adding more midrange shots
J.R. needs to look more for his teammates and pass the ball. The more Smith looks for his teammates the more they will work harder on offense. Players are not going to put 100% on offense if they know they will not get the ball.
The Knicks no longer have to look at just Carmelo Anthony to bail them out every time, if J.R. Smith stays focused on driving and using the midrange shot the Knicks will have a good second option. It feels good to have options.