It was a strange, strange season for J.R. Smith, even by his standards. The wackiness began on the eve of the season, when his brother Chris Smith was given a roster spot over several more-deserving candidates, in what could only be seen as an act of nepotism.
Soon after, Smith was forced to miss the first five games of the season for a failed drug test – punishment that typically follows a third positive marijuana test.
Things got weirder still in January, when the enigmatic shooting guard was fined for not once, but twice attempting to untie opponents’ shoelaces DURING AN ACTUAL NBA GAME. The coup de grâce was on April 6, when Smith shot an NBA-record 22 three pointers. By himself.
The odd storylines were not limited to in-season. Last summer, when the Knicks signed Smith to a four-year, $24.5 million deal which was later revised to three-years and $18 million, J.R. celebrated by having major knee surgery four days later.
His game clearly suffered following the surgery, and it was the writing on the wall for the Knicks’ season.
Although his season numbers finished close to career averages, Smith’s cold start factored significantly into the Knicks’ 9-21 start. J.R. shot a dreadful 33% from the field in November and a still-dreadful 37% in December, all while playing a significant 30-plus minutes a game.
In a clear indication of the lingering effects of his offseason knee surgery, Smith’s FG% improved each month (except for a minor reversal in February) as did his 3PT%. Over the course of the season Smith still had a strong positive influence on the Knick offense – the team scored 110.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, a mark that would have made them the most efficient offense in the league. That number sagged to 106.7 with Smith on the bench.