Wipe that sweat off your brow, New York Knicks fans. Stop losing sleep at night. Collect lucky rabbits' feet no more. J.R. Smith has no plans to stop shooting, so you can rest easy knowing all is right with the world.
"My jumper just hasn’t been there," Smith said, per the New York Daily News' Peter Botte. "That’s situations where I got to make my teammates better, get guys open shots and keep driving to the hole. But one thing, I’m not going to stop shooting."
Phew, that was a close one—for everyone who doesn't know "Swish," that is.
Smith shoots. Almost exclusively. He was brought to New York midway through the 2011-12 campaign because he could shoot. Which he has. And score. Which he hasn't.
Since returning from his five-game suspension, Smith has struggled to make a positive impact on the offensive end. He's jacking up over 13 shots a night, but he's connecting on what would be a career-low 32.8 percent of them. Only 28.6 percent of his treys are finding the bottom of the net as well, another career low.
This arresting inconsistency comes merely months removed from a superb 2012-13 campaign, during which he averaged a career-high 18.1 points per game while establishing himself as one of New York's most dangerous three-point shooters (35.6 percent conversion rate). And as of now, it's his followup to signing a substantial, albeit reasonable, three-year contract over the summer.
Asked if his surgically repaired knee is impacting his production, Smith entertained it as a possibility but wouldn't blame his poor play solely on his ailing limbs:
"Somewhat, but it’s all right, I’m still playing…It’s taking time," he said, via Botte. "I’m not one to make excuses, but I got to play better. If it’s hurting that bad, then I shouldn’t be playing. I’m out there and I’m going to try to give it all I got."
Typically, the Knicks would brush off Smith's recent 10-game stretch. It's simply Smith being Smith. The problem is Smith's irregular production is a lot easier to weather when the team is winning, which the Knicks are not.
Sitting at 3-12 and the bottom of the Atlantic Division, they aren't afforded the luxury of patience. The Knicks need Smith to score and complement Carmelo Anthony like he did last season now.
"We're frustrated," Smith previously said of where the Knicks are mentally, via ESPN New York's Ohm Youngmisuk. "Like you say, it's too early to panic, but me personally, I'm panicking. I don't like this."
Neither do the Knicks. Or their fans. They all need Smith to shoot himself out of this slump. They must be able to count on him.
The thing about Smith is he'll never stop shooting. Make or miss, that won't stop him from bombing away.
Count on that.