Explosive both on and off the court, New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith has recently expressed a disdain for coming off the bench. Moving to the starting lineup might be just what the streaky scorer needs to improve his consistency.
It gets frustrating after a while. People saying, “he’s a sixth man, sixth man, sixth man’’ when you believe you’re a starter. But you have to understand, it’s a team game and have to put individual goals aside.
Berman goes on to discuss that Smith's competition, free-agent acquisition Ronnie Brewer, is still recovering from knee surgery. That provides a window of opportunity that Smith will hope to capitalize on.
As good of a sixth man as Smith has been over the years, he is a veteran who has definitely paid his dues.
Smith has the all-around offensive game to be an NBA starter. Not only can he take opponents off the dribble and throw down a thunderous dunk, but he can also work off screens and be a knockdown shooter.
The biggest issue with Smith at times is his shot selection, because he will often create difficult shots on his own. When they're going in, it's great, but he was off the mark more than usual in 2011-12.
Being the volume shooter that Smith is, he will jack up shots in order to get into a rhythm. If the opportunity to start is taken away from him, Smith will likely attempt to prove himself as a rightful member of the starting five by attempting to score more, which will stagnate the flow of the Knicks' offense. That's already an issue due to the isolation-based offensive games of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Now that Smith has projected the notion of starting to the media, head coach Mike Woodson should grant him his request.
The energy that Iman Shumpert and Brewer would provide off the bench would be an effective change-up to throw at the opposition. That combo would be especially useful on the defensive end, which is the other major knock on Smith's game.
A trio of Anthony, Stoudemire and Smith would help the Knicks get off to hot starts. The two other stellar defenders could come in and protect the lead, while still providing some offensive punch.
Another factor to consider is that Smith has a player option on his contract for 2013-14, according to HoopsHype.com.
Burying him on the pine would put Smith's talents to waste, not to mention diminishing his value in a potential sign-and-trade deal if New York decides to part ways with him. The Knicks are going to be among the most cap-strapped teams as the massive contracts of Melo and Stoudemire continue to take their toll.
Smith is among the most valuable scoring role players in the league, and the Knicks may need him—either as an asset to deal, or as a significant contributor—for the long-term future of the franchise.
He also exudes the type of energy and personality to ignite Madison Square Garden on a consistent basis, but Smith needs to have the consistent opportunities to do so.
Naming Smith a starter would not only accommodate that need, but it would draw the guard closer to realizing his full, unique potential.
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