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What do you expect from JR Smith this season?
Joe Caporoso - There is always reason for concern when it comes to the New York Knicks and injured players. I’m going to hope Smith is back to 100% at some point in the first half of the season but I’m going to assume we won’t see JR really be JR until after the All-Star break. The Knicks can probably tread water without him fully up to speed, especially if Iman Shumpert continues to grow and Tim Hardaway Jr can provide a handful of quality minutes every night. When Smith is back to himself, I’d expect similar production on both ends of the court to last year with maybe a slight dip in point per game average. The Knicks have a few more scoring options this season and their offense won’t have to rely so heavily on his offensive output. Hopefully, JR will continue to attack the basket and not settle for contested fade-away jumpers at the rate he was doing in the playoffs last season.
Chris Celletti - This may sound like a cop out, but I expect J.R. Smith to be J.R. Smith, which means there will be plenty of good and plenty of bad. We all hoped that Smith had turned a corner with his performance last March, when he suddenly became a complete, versatile and efficient slashing/driving guard. Unfortunately, that didn’t carry over during a regrettable playoff performance, so I don’t see why it makes sense to believe he’s going to change this season. But this isn’t to knock Smith, because I happen to be a fan of his. Hopefully when he returns to the lineup he can fit seamlessly back in as a top bench scorer, and the Knicks would be better off if he isn’t relied on as heavily as he was last year. The additions of Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace should alleviate some of the bench scoring role, and an evolving Iman Shumpert could do wonders for the Knicks’ offense as well. I expect plenty of makes on “bad” shots and plenty of open misses, great passes and mental lapses. Basically, J.R. Smith. But one thing he never gets credit for is that he plays hard, and I don’t expect that to change either.
Kevin Smith - I’m writing this with full confidence that Smith’s knee will be a minor hiccup during the very beginning of a long season. Once healthy, J.R. will get every opportunity to match last year’s Sixth Man of the Year outbreak, but is it feasible for him to keep that up? Smith can and will take every halfway decent look he gets, and with basically the same supporting cast around him, there’s no reason to think his scoring output won’t be there.
However, just like last year, Coach Woodson will have to stay on top of him to make sure he shows up on both ends of the floor. J.R. averaged a career-high 5.3 rebounds per game and proved that he has value defensively too, but there’s always room for improvement.
The Knicks were at their best when he was at his too, and as much as they will live and die by the three, they will live and die with J.R. One guarantee I can make is that he will lead the league in “No. No. Yes!” moments. Of course, that’s if the Knicks don’t become victims of handing out a contract to a bad set of knees yet again.
Aaron Jacobs - One would hope that eventually, J.R. Smith will become a more mature player on and off the court. I loved everything that J.R. did last year in route to his 6th man of the year award, but in the playoffs he was one of the players that really let most Knicks fan’s down. Granted we now know that he was playing on a bum knee, but that never stopped him from going out and having a good time, which is what really irked me. Most of the time it seems like J.R. is more obsessed with the “rock star lifestyle” than a championship, though he’ll argue otherwise.
All that being said, the expectations for Smith remain the same, after an extension you would hope he will be on board to strive for a championship in the big apple. I expect anywhere from 15-20 points, 4-6 rebounds and an all out defensive effort from Smith when he’s 100% healthy. Woodson will probably monitor Smith’s minutes early when he returns, but he will be on the court for the Knicks in crunch time. He will once again be in contention for 6th man, if he logs enough minutes to qualify.
Tim Murray - Reigning Sixth Man of the Year, J.R. Smith received knee surgery this offseason but it appears to be a fairly minor issue and therefore should not affect his production much once he reaches 100%. Coach Woodson really took Smith under his wing last season, which is why I believe once Smith returns to full strength he will be capable of another 6th man of the year-type performance, however I expect a slight dip in both his minutes per game and therefore points per game.
The key difference between last season and this upcoming one is that the Knicks now have a deeper bench with more scoring options to work with. It became extremely clear during the playoffs this past season that Shumpert has fully returned from his ACL injury and with the addition of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Andrea Bargnani there are more offensive threats than just Melo, Smith and a collection of three-point shooters.
I believe the slight dip in minutes will also be contributed to Woodson’s plan on the defensive end. Although J.R. Smith proved to be valuable on defense, the addition of a defensive asset like Metta World Peace now makes the Knicks deeper in strong perimeter defenders as well. In close game situations or against teams such as the Heat, Pacers, Nets, etc… they may go with shorter rotations just to keep players’ legs as fresh as possible.
Chris DiGioia - What do I expect from JR Smith this season? Not even a crystal ball can figure that one out. Honestly, all I want to see is consistency. Will he provide that? He sure didn’t show it on the biggest stage, the post-season. I don’t think Smith will be the Sixth Man of the Year again, but I do expect him to put the ball in the basket. After coming off a career year averaging over 18 points per game, I believe anything less then 16 points per game this season, would be a disappointment.
Although Smith is coming off a knee injury, the pressure will be on him to rehab correctly, and produce, because the Knicks just signed him to controversial four year deal. I think Smith will be just fine, and hopefully with the help of rookie Tim Hardaway Jr, some of the scoring load can be taken off himself and Carmelo’s back. Andrea Bargnani and Amare Stoudemire will also be on the court for the Knicks this year, so fans have to expect Smith missing out on some shots were normally accustomed to him taking. He will still score, play solid defense, and ignite the Knicks bench scoring next season, but the big question will be if he shows up when the bright lights are put on.