With all of the New York Knicks additions this past offseason, there aren’t many training camp battles going on as it pertains to the starting lineup. However as training camp enters its second week, there still has been no decision on who will enter the season as the starting shooting guard.
It could be a while longer before head coach Mike Woodson makes a decision on his starting lineup, especially with Ronnie Brewer not yet practicing after knee surgery.
With all of that going on, J.R. Smith made his opinion on the matter felt, telling ESPN’s Jared Zwerling:
“I would prefer to start. I would rather be a starter,” he said. “My goal was to come in here and be a starter, and play with those other four guys on the floor. It is frustrating after a while that people see me as a sixth man, sixth man, sixth man, when you believe you’re a starter. But at the same time, you have to understand this is a team game and you have to put individual goals aside.”
Smith has entered five of his seven NBA seasons knowing that he would be the first guy off the bench, but looks like he wants to shed the label of sixth man.
The Knicks don’t have much perimeter shooting, so from that stand point it would make sense for Smith to start. But he’s also a guy who dominates the ball and they already have a guy like that in the starting lineup in Carmelo Anthony.
Then there is the fact that Smith is a very inconsistent offensive player and his bad shot selection will often take the Knicks’ starters out of their rhythm.
But most importantly there is the fact that if Smith is named the starter, his scoring off the bench will need to be replaced. Bringing a scorer such as Smith off the bench is a luxury. He gives the team a spark and I for one like him in that role. The Knicks don’t necessarily need Smith’s scoring in their starting lineup, but they really need it off the bench.
Brewer was signed because he is a lockdown perimeter defender, something the Knicks need with Iman Shumpert out of the lineup. Smith isn’t nearly as capable of a defender. That and that alone is a big reason why Smith has more value coming off the bench.
I do like the fact that Smith wants a bigger role, but by starting him, Woodson probably weakens the team as a whole.
However Smith still has some time in training camp to continue to make his case. If he lets his play do the talking for him, then he just might be in the starting lineup opening night.
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