Knicks' J.R. Smith Was the Clear Choice for Sixth Man Award
But was there any other choice?
Smith—who beat out the Los Angeles Clippers' Jamal Crawford with 484 points (including 72 first-place votes)—averaged 18.1 points while shooting 36 percent from downtown this season. That included 29 games in which he scored 20 points or more.
Despite coming off the bench, Smith was New York's second-leading scorer behind NBA scoring champion and teammate Carmelo Anthony.
But Smith's performance this regular season went beyond his scoring ability. He also posted a rebound rate (the percentage of available rebounds he collects when on the floor) of 9.3, sixth among shooting guards who played at least 51 games (via Basketball-Reference.com).
The result? Smith posted a PER of 17.6 this season, seventh among all shooting guards in the league, via Basketball-Reference.com. By comparison, Crawford registered a PER of 16.8 (ninth among shooting guards).
While Crawford was slightly more efficient than Smith from the field, he didn't offer the rebounding ability that Smith did. That's what primarily separated Smith from Crawford. Obviously, there's not much Crawford can do about that; he's a smaller player. But it is what it is.
Who deserved the NBA's Sixth Man Award this season?
Even though Crawford played in a tougher conference, that wouldn't affect the rebounding numbers that much. He still wouldn't provide the impact on the glass that Smith does.
While most people will remember Smith's scoring surges after the season is over for the Knicks, the reality is he offered more than scoring for New York, and that is primarily the reason he won the NBA's Sixth Man Award. It's so easy to key in on Smith when he's on one of his scoring streaks, but it actually overshadows another important component to his game: The ability to give the Knicks an advantage on the glass.
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