In only 35 games, Smith averaged 12.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. On defense, he hustled all over the court and averaged 1.5 steals per game.
Even though the Knicks were defeated by the Miami Heat last night to officially end their 2011-2012 season, they should feel hopeful that if everyone returns next year they will certainly improve in 2012-2013.
Here are the reasons why the Knicks need to not only make sure J.R. Smith stays with the Knicks next season, but why he needs a much bigger role.
This is also assuming that the Knicks re-sign restricted free agent Jeremy Lin to a new deal this offseason, which they are expected to do at all costs.
The Knicks have really struggled to find an effective point guard other than Lin.
Baron Davis has way too many turnovers and now has suffered a possibly career-ending injury.
Mike Bibby is clearly coming to the end of his career and shot a career-low 28.2 percent from the field this season.
Toney Douglas fell out of favor quickly when he too shot a career-low 32.4 percent from the field.
Having J.R. Smith, who can bring the ball up, play more often drastically reduces the role of the Knicks’ backup point guard, which they clearly don’t have anyone to fill.
J.R. Smith is definitely a fan favorite because of his on- and off-court actions.
On the court, Smith is always pulling out highlight-reel plays, like his fade-away jumpers or wild alley-oops. After any great play by either him or his teammatse, he always fuels the crowd’s cheers with his assortment of high-fives and chest bumps.
Off the court, Smith is one of the most popular NBA players on Twitter and Instagram. He interacts with his fans on a daily basis, sharing messages and pictures of the team when they aren’t playing basketball.
The Garden crowd is already one of, if not the best in the NBA, so having a player like J.R. Smith to bring the energy can really have an impact on the game.
J.R. Smith loves to get out in the open court and run as much as possible.
This has led to numerous easy scoring opportunities for either him or his teammates.
Since he has such a great leaping ability, Smith is constantly looking to receive alley-oop passes at the rim. If he is ahead of his defender, you can be sure Smith will finish off the dunk or layup, no matter how accurate the pass thrown to him is.
There is no easier way to score in this game than on a fast break.
Iman Shumpert is easily the team’s best perimeter defender, but it appears he is going to be out another 6-8 months with a knee injury. If this is true, he probably won’t be available for the start of next season.
J.R. Smith has really stepped up his defense in Shumpert’s absence. When you watch Smith on D, you can see the all-out effort he is always giving since he is constantly flying after loose balls.
Smith has really quick feet, which allows him to stay in front of almost any guard in the league. He also has quick hands and forces a lot of turnovers, either with steals or deflected passes.
When Shumpert and Smith are both out there together, it is extremely difficult for opposing guards to score against the Knicks.
Overall, Smith is the leader of the Knicks’ second unit.
He is so much the leader of this second unit that even though the Knicks have suffered numerous injuries to key starters, he has still only started one game this season.
When the substitutes enter the game, Smith becomes the primary scorer on the court. The offense runs through him since he is the only player who can create his own shot or force the defenders to react to him, causing open shots for his teammates.
Smith needs to be on the floor every time Melo and STAT both take a seat together, or the Knicks offense has absolutely no chance to be successful.