Award or Not, J.R. Smith Is Sixth Man of the Year

By Moke Hamilton

J.R. Smith is only shooting 40 percent from the field and 35 percent from the 3-point arc, but neither of those are far below his career numbers of 42 percent and 37 percent, respectively. The argument also can easily be made that Smith – who is taking 15 shots per game this season, far above his career average of 10 – is simply being asked to carry more of an offensive load as the team’s secondary offensive option.

Mar 23, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) shoots a free throw during the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 110-84. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

So fault Woodson for his laissez-faire offensive coaching of Smith, but only if you credit him with  turning J.R. into a two-way player who brings energy and effort every single night.

Smith is far from perfect. But for the Knicks, he has been a godsend.

After returning from a stint in China, Smith signed with the Knicks last season for a pro-rated share of the $2.5 million “room exception.” He rebuked overtures from the Clippers, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, amongst others. The Pacers were the only team that could offer Smith a richer payday than the Knicks, but they did not, and his decision to sign in New York seemed to be more financial than anything else.

After opting out last summer, Smith re-signed with the Knicks, taking a two-year deal worth $5.7 million. However, the second year is a player option that Smith is not expected to exercise, once again making him a free agent this summer.

And that is when things will get interesting.

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Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops, whose articles will also appear on Buckets Over Broadway

Topics: J.R. Smith, New York Knicks

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