The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of J.R. Smith

Jimmy SpencerNBA Lead WriterMarch 12, 2013

J.R. Smith continues to be an enigma.

Provocative enough for New York, the 27-year-old shooting guard has plenty of head-shaking moments, both positive and negative.


The good

Smith has put together the best of his nine seasons in the NBA and two seasons with the Knicks. At 16.6 points per game, Smith has become an emotional barometer of Knicks success.

Smith has been a significant part of the Knicks’ success this season.

I spoke with New York's Steve Novak prior to the Knicks' loss at Golden State on Monday:

Smith is a leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year honors.

Despite not starting a single one of the Knicks' 60 games, Smith has led the team in scoring nine times this season and is third in the league in points off the bench. He's had 18 games with 20 or more points. He's also averaging career highs in rebounds (5.1) and assists (2.8).

When Knicks star Carmelo Anthony isn’t available, it’s Smith taking on the game’s biggest moments. Smith has played 10 more games this season than Anthony, providing a much-needed threat.

Smith’s heroics and endearing level of excitement have made him a New York favorite, no easy task—especially in Knicks land.

Marc Berman of the New York Post discussed the good and bad of Smith.

Smith connected on 14-of-29 shots against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 8 to lead the Knicks with 36 points.

That was the good.


The bad

This may fall on Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s lack of play-calling in a crucial moment, but it was Smith’s lack of creativity in opening a good look in the final seconds that makes him a liability.

Smith is not a picky shooter, the biggest knock on his game.

If shots in the NBA were found at cheap buffets, he’d be in line for every meal. He is shooting 40.3 percent on 15.3 field-goal attempts per game and 35.2 percent from behind the arc.

Knicks announcer Walter "Clyde" Frazier spoke about Smith's erratic play, which has still been mostly good.


The ugly

Smith’s career year comes following prior years as a cautionary tale, from being benched under George Karl in Denver for poor decision making on the court to off-the-court issues that include reckless driving and gang-affiliated tweets.

A Deadspin report last month chronicled Smith advancing on a high school girl before concluding with this tweet:

Smith was ejected from the Knicks’ 92-63 loss to Golden State on Monday night for a flagrant-2 foul on Warriors rookie Harrison Barnes.

Smith wasn’t available after the game, but Woodson told us reporters: “I don’t think he was trying to hurt the kid. Obviously they saw something different so I’ve just got to wait until I see it.”

Smith finished the game with nine points on 3-of-11 shooting and two turnovers in 21 minutes.

He’s doing plenty of good, but there’s always the bad.


Jimmy Spencer is an NBA Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter at @JimmySpencerNBA.

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