New York Knicks: 5 Reasons J.R. Smith Makes the Knicks a Title Contender
Although the Knicks certainly don't lack firepower on the offensive end with a roster that boasts Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and breakout sensation Jeremy Lin, Smith will give the team a reliable offensive weapon off the bench, which they have been lacking.
Granted, adding J.R. Smith to a team that has plenty of shooters and scorers on it may seem like a perplexing move at first glance, but with further analysis, it becomes clearer that Smith is exactly what they need to take them to the next level.
Smith's calling card has certainly become his three-point shooting and his ability to catch fire from long range, but he is also extremely athletic.
With Baron Davis set to return this week, coupled with Lin's passing ability, Smith may be displaying his hops more than many expect him to.
The fact that Lin watches a ton of game film will help Smith utilize his athleticism and make him a more dangerous weapon come playoff time, since Lin will learn from his observing where Smith likes to get the ball and what areas of the court he is most comfortable shooting from.
Since every team in the NBA is aware of Smith's shooting ability, they are likely going to play up on him and force him to create his own shot, which he is capable of.
He must utilize his quickness and slash his way to the hoop for an easy backdoor pass or alley-oop, as opposed to settling for jump shots, in order to be an effective weapon for the team.
4. A Third Solidified Shot Creator
With Carmelo Anthony being the best clutch shooter in the game and Lin emerging as a star, Smith gives the Knicks a third player who can break down the defense with a dribble drive that can penetrate and make his way to the cup.
Smith can oftentimes settle into the role of a catch-and-shoot player, but when he looks to create his own shot when his long-range bombs aren't falling is when he's the most dangerous.
He has a sneaky crossover that can create space for him to get off a quick jumper while also allowing him to bounce boundlessly past the defender to the hoop for a theatrical throwdown or easy layup.
Having Smith will also take pressure off Amar'e Stoudemire since it will allow Stoudemire to play his game in the post rather than being forced to try to create his own shot from the top of the key.
While Stoudemire has shown that he is capable of driving his way to the hoop, he is better suited being down on the low block, where he can back his opponents down or use a dribble or two to get close enough to the basket to punish the defense with his explosive athleticism for a seismic slam.
3. A Spark off the Bench
Many of the Knicks' bench players have benefited from the grand improvements made by Lin, as he has created ways to draw in the opposing defense, which opens up his teammates for wide-open shots.
Steve Novak has been discovered as one of the sharpest shooters in the NBA, while Iman Shumpert and even Jared Jeffries have improved offensively playing alongside Lin.
However, Novak and Jeffries need a point guard to help create their offensive opportunities since Novak is a catch-and-shoot player and Jeffries is too clumsy with the ball to create his own shot.
Shumpert is certainly looking like he will develop into a solid offensive threat but has shown that he needs to mature as a player before the Knicks rely heavily on him as the No. 1 option off the bench.
Smith will open up a plethora of opportunities for the Knicks' stars and for the players mentioned above, since he has the ability to blast past his opponent with a crossover to get to the basket or throw up a threatening three ball that he has a knack for making.
2. Playoff Experience
While the playoff experience he brings is certainly a plus, it becomes even more valuable since that experience came playing alongside Carmelo Anthony.
Although Smith is certainly cuckoo, it is likely that things won't get any crazier than his new questionable haircut, as team leaders like Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire should keep him in check.
Smith's biggest asset come playoff time will be his ability to knock down clutch shots, as he can catch fire at any time and can carry an offense when he heats up.
However, just as John Starks did so many times for Knicks teams of yesteryear, Smith also has the ability to shoot his teams out of games as well.
Especially since he will be playing for Mike D'Antoni, who encourages a hefty number of three-point shooting, Smith will have to learn during the regular season to have good shot selection, as the Knicks cannot afford to lose playoff games due to moronic shot-taking from the crazed Smith.
All that being said, it is likely that he will have a positive impact on the team come playoff time since he will have Anthony, Stoudemire and Lin to take the pressure off him so he doesn't feel like he has to carry the scoring load if his shots aren't connecting.
1. Uncanny Shooting Ability
Smith has the capability to knock down shot after shot, demoralizing the defense by raining down deadly daggers from deep range.
The exciting thing for Knicks fans will be to see just how well Smith plays when opposing defenses are not able to double-team him for long due to the fear that an open Carmelo Anthony, Jeremy Lin, Amar'e Stoudemire or even Tyson Chandler will knock down an open shot or creep his way to the hoop for an easy dunk.
While no one truly knows how the myriad of offensive monsters the Knicks have will mesh together, the addition of Smith has placed the Knicks in a position to seize the Larry O'Brien Trophy that has eluded them for so long.