Carmelo Anthony Shouldering Scoring Load, but Knicks Living, Dying by J.R. Smith

Matt DienstagContributor IIIApril 16, 2012

Ever since Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin went down with injuries, New York Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony has been scoring at an unbelievable clip, but he can't do it all by himself.

Anthony is at times willing this team to victories, but the offense is also heavily relying on his production.

The role players have done a nice job picking up the slack, but the one who sees the most minutes and takes by far the most shots is none other than J.R. Smith.

And the Knicks are living and dying by his production.

Smith is by far the Knicks' streakiest player. When he's stroking the jumper, he'll puts games out of reach for opposing teams. When he shoots like he doesn't have a conscience, he kills the offensive flow of the game and in the process digs the Knicks into a hole they struggle to get out of.

Since Smith has seen an increase in minutes due to the injuries to Lin and Stoudemire, Smith has shot about 14 times a game, quite a lot for a player that comes off the bench.

In the four games they've lost during that stretch, he's shot 33 percent from the field, including his stinker in Atlanta (2-of-10) and his poor shooting performance that contributed to the meltdown in Indiana (3-of-11).

However, Smith warrants the extra minutes because of his scoring potential. He has the ability to take over games and has shot higher than 40 percent in half his games (28) as a Knick. In the games that Smith has shot efficiently, the Knicks have gone 10-4. In those 14 games, Smith is averaging 15.5 points per game.

In games where Smith goes for double figures, the Knicks are 13-6.

That being said, the Knicks are desperate for efficient production out of Smith. It's rare the Knicks lose when Smith shoots the ball well, but yesterday was one of those days. If nothing else, when Smith is on, he keeps the Knicks in games.

Assuming the Knicks qualify for the postseason, the number of zeros on Smith's next contract could largely depend on the way he performs in the playoffs. The Knicks need his offensive production in order to win games, but they need it at a respectable rate.