J.R. Smith had by far the best season of his career last season.
He was a key contributor off the bench, averaging over 18 points and bringing home the Sixth Man of the Year Award. He was a huge part of the Knicks success last season, but after a bad decision in the offseason that lead to a failed drug test, he has to sit out the first five games of the season.
How will he impact the Knicks once he returns?
Quite possibly the biggest impact he will have on the Knicks is his ability to score. He can get hot quick and begin making all of his shots no matter how hard they seem. The Knicks could really use help in that area.
Outside of Carmelo Anthony, they don’t really have a player who can be a very good number two scoring option. Iman Shumpert’s scoring has improved, but he is not quite there yet. Andrea Bargnani has not been too good so far. Amar’e Stoudemire will never be able to play more than 20 minutes in the foreseeable future due to his knees, so he is not an option to fill the hole that lurks in that role. Tim Hardaway Jr. is still a rookie trying to adjust to the NBA level. So when Smith gets back, he can fill that role and help Mike Woodson finally set the rotation.
He also will obviously strengthen the Knicks bench. He can lessen the load on guys off the bench to have to take his scoring load, as when he gets back he will score a lot for a bench player. With him back on the bench, Hardaway can ease his way into the Knicks rotation instead of instantly being thrown into the back up shooting guard role with Smith on the sidelines.
Once J.R. returns, it will make the Knicks a much better team. He can supply scoring and a big spark off the bench. He is slated to return on November 10 vs. the San Antonio Spurs.