JR Smith reminds me of a young Kobe Bryant, back when he got drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, before being sent off to the Lakers. How ironic that both players were drafted by the Hornets originally.
Kobe went at the 13th overall pick, Jr at the 18th overall pick. They both entered their names into the NBA draft right out of high-school.
Kobe was mostly known for his high octane dunks, as was Jr Smith. They were (and are in the case of Jr Smith) cocky, brash, and arrogant. Kobe Bryant has said the he is going to be the best, and he was the best back when the Jordan era was coming to a close.
Smith has not verbally said that he is going to be the best, or is the best, but his swagger on the court shows that's exactly what he is trying to say.
Although critics compared Kobe to Jordan and Magic in the early stages of his career, I don't recall anybody comparing JR to a hall-of-fame type of player.
Kobe was a runner up for sixth man of the year, averaging 15.4 PPG, and Jr was a runner up for sixth man of the year this year, averaging 15.2 PPG.
If we compare Kobe's first year and Smith's second year (they are closer in MPG) the stats are pretty similar. Kobe playing 15.5 MPG averaged 7.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, and 1.3 APG. Kobe started six of his 71 games played that year.
JR in his second year was averaging 7.7 PPG, 2 RPG, and 1.1 APG, playing 18 MPG. Pretty similar right?
If we fast forward to Kobe's second year, he almost doubled his PPG, averaging 15.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 2.5 APG. He only started one game, playing 26 MPG. Smith in his fourth year played 74 games, started none, playing 19 MPG, averaging 12.3 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 1.7 APG.
This year Smith played 27 MPG, starting 18 games out of 81 and averaging 15.2 PPG 3.7 APG, and 3.1 RPG. Those numbers are similar MPG wise.
In the 1998-1998 season, Kobe started all the games and became the premier player after Nick Van Excel and Eddie Jones were traded off. He averaged 19.9 PPG 5.3 RPG, and 3.8 APG, while playing 37.9 MPG.
That's something that holds Smith back; starting and being that premier player on a team. I don't see Smith playing 35+ minutes next year. His PP48M is 26.4, but that pales in comparison to Kobe's 35.7 PP48M.
During that 1998-1999 season, Kobe was still his young, cocky, brash, self, yet he started as he was the only player that could.
He was 20-21 years of age when he became the starting SG for the Lakers. It wasn't until Kobe went over the age of 26 that I thought he matured. JR has showed slow signs of maturity in recent years.
Eventually, Kobe developed a much better jump shot and added range to that as well. No longer is Kobe known for his flashy dunks, but his silent assassin like jump shots, and his eerily similar Jordan fade away post ups.
JR Smith is on the verge from becoming a better shooter, with a broader shot selection I might add, losing some of those flashy dunks
“Better learn not to talk to me,” Bryant said of Smith’s jabbering. “You shake the tree, a leopard’s gonna fall out.”
Bryant is no longer what JR is, heck I don't even think he talked as much as JR. He has developed a nickname, "The Black Mamba", learning new ways to say things. He is confident but not cocky, and most importantly, a leader.
JR does not possess these qualities yet, but coming straight out of high school I wouldn't expect him to. JR trash talks all the way down the floor after every shot he makes. He needs to learn to calm down, and not think so highly of himself. But hey, he came out of high school and thinks he is the best.
Give this guy 35+ MPG and he will turn into a 25 PPG, 4.5-5 RPG, and 4-5 APG, just the same as Kobe this year. The question is, can he be an actual leader, take quality shots, and take over games? If so, he will be probably the next Kobe Bryant.
Most people probably won't agree with me.
I'm not sure right now though, but hey he's still only 24.