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So far, J.R. hasn't just exceeded my expectations, he has completely and utterly blown them out of the water.
When this Knicks team first started to come together, I truly felt J.R. would end up being the weak link.
I thought he just didn't fit. Maybe because he's always had a shoot first type of attitude, or because he's known to be a bit of a troublemaker off the court. I also was a bit worried that he felt a little jaded and disappointed when he wasn't named a starter.
Well, after three games in, J.R. Smith has quickly become quite possibly the best offensive weapon coming off of any bench, on any team. His Achilles looks fine, and so does his ego.
It's clear that J.R. thrives best when he's coming off the bench. His 6'6 frame and his ball handling ability has always been difficult to cover, but when he's in the zone like he has been so far this season, it's damn near impossible to stop him.
After New York's latest victory in Philly, Smith is averaging 16 PPG.
It's not just the scoring that's impressive. He's also pulling 6.3 RPG, and dishing out 4.3 APG, which is nearly double of what his average was last year.
I think it helps too that Woodson is apparently a little bit harder on J.R. than most of his other guys, which is something that Smith may have been missing over the years.
Based on his past transgressions, Smith is a guy who should benefit from a little tough love. It will keep him grounded, and Woodson clearly realizes that an athletically gifted talent like Smith shouldn't go to waste under any circumstances.
As of right now, Smith has become way more than just a point scorer, he's become an all out WMD with the ball in his hand.
His hot start probably will start to simmer after a while, but as long as he continues to play with this kind of intensity, the Knicks won't be able to complain about their 6th man.
What He Provides: Instant Offense off of the bench.