There have been two roller coasters throughout this season. The New York Knicks as a whole have been a roller coaster ride this year. That’s been a given for a while now. But the other roller coaster is about a certain individual that has derailed all throughout this season, until now. Who may that be?
J.R Smith has been a roller coaster ride for me and a corpulent majority of Knicks fans. A couple of months ago, I wrote about how he needed to go because of his abysmal shooting numbers. His shooting percentages were going as low as 32% from the field in November and 36% in December, and his shoelace un-tying fetish were both embarrassments to the team. The fuses were on the verge of exploding, or perhaps they did; I just kept the fuse-blowing secretive. But this time, at a time where the race for the 8th seed in the abominable Eastern Conference is very tense, the angel on one shoulder (Good J.R) is shielding off the devil (Bad J.R) on the other shoulder.
It’s insurmountable not to say that March was J.R’s best shooting month. I viewed his shooting splits on basketball-reference.com and was amazed. In the month of March, his FG% increased from 41% to 45%, his 3P% went up a sliver from 39% to 40%, his FT% from 64% skyrocketing to 81%, his TS% from 51% to 57%, his ORtg catapulting from 101 to 116 and his overall +/-, which went from -10.8 to +2.6 in 32 minutes a contest.
The increases are all part of Mike Woodson inserting J.R as a starter. The outlandish thing: Woodson’s adjustment actually paid off. I thought the reverse may have been in place, because just thinking about J.R starting makes me cringe. But hey, not last month, right? Phew!
As I said above, his percentages in November, after the four games he had to serve for violating the NBA’s drug policy, of course, and December were indicative of him actually being on some kind of substance. In his first four games back from his suspension, he shot a reprehensible, inexcusable 22% from the field and 26% from downtown. He started at the 2 because at the time, Woodson implemented his (not so) novel idea and drifted away from the successful small-ball lineups from last season, playing Carmelo Anthony at the three while putting Andrea Bargnani at the four. We all know what happened with this experiment: the Knicks floundered their way to several games under .500. Now, Smith’s March numbers may sound like a statistical anomaly, because, first and foremost, it’s J.R Smith, but they’re real after all (THEY’RE REAL, I TELL YA! REAL!).
Woodson has been on and off deciding about starting J.R. J.R has started 30 of the 67 games this season. Right after I looked at J.R’s splits this year, I immediately thought of his 2012-13 March and April. I looked at his splits from last year and I found some very good numbers, some very uncannily similar good numbers.
J.R’s shooting splits in March 2013 consisted of shooting 44% from the field, 80% from the charity stripe, via drawing frequent contact a la James Harden, a 112 ORtg, a 105 DRtg, when he knew how to play some defense, and a 56 TS% with a 30.6 USG% in 34.4 minutes a game. In April, he shot 48% from the field, 40% from three, 61% from the line, decreasing dramatically by 19 points, a 55 TS%, carrying a 31.6 USG%, along with 110 ORtg, 107 DRtg, wielding an adjusted +/- of 9.6.
Remember how J.R won the Sixth Man of The Year solely based off of his numbers in March and April of last year, in which he averaged 22.1 points a contest, 6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in March and April? J.R realized he didn’t have to take his patented, contested 20-22 footer; he had a revelation and that revelation was attacking the rim at full force. The restricted area and J.R developed a long-lasting relationship, but the restricted area was restricted from going to nightclubs in the vicinity. Alas, J.R incinerated the intertwined knot he tied with the Bic cigarette lighter he lights his blunts with. The restricted area found out, sulked in her own tears, listened to “Alone” by Heart on the MSG PA and couldn’t wait for Tyson Chandler to come back. Smith ran back to the least-efficient-shot-in-the-world, the contested, fade-away deep two. He so sorely missed his first love that he needed to kiss and make up with it.
Now, I’m obviously not saying he’ll win the award again this year, because I would have to be on some kind of bath salts. There might be a cyclical trend if he has a fantastic April this month. Maybe he’ll kiss and make up with the restricted area again. I’m sure it’ll oblige.