In the middle of Linsanity, the New York Knicks signed Earl “JR” Smith III. Straight out of China, where he averaged 34.4 points per game, hitting 47.8% of his 3 pointers, JR arrived in New York with a weird hairdo, an electric energy and more crazy shots than the regular Knicks fan will be able to put up with.
JR can bring a lot of good things to this Knicks team. New York’s bench improved tenfold immediately. Knicks have a true 3 point threat out there. Spreading the floor and opening up spaces for Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire to work on the inside.
He can heat up in a second, bringing scoring off the bench with no adjustment time needed. He showed that against the Dallas Mavericks, the defending champs, as he, even without a second of practice with his new team, jumped off the bench and started scoring.
His energy off the bench was felt as soon as he was in the it. Unlike the cool heads of Melo and Amar’e, Smith wears his heart on his sleeve. He was jumping, screaming, getting the crowd in the game. This type of player is immensely important.
If Smith is on one of his good days, catching fire from the perimeter 1, teams will tighten the defense giving him room to show off his athleticism, giving him a chance to slash to the basket with reckless abandon.
JR can create his own shot with ease, something only Melo, and now Lin, could do before. His step back crossover move (video below) will give him virtually any open shot he wants.
Smith also brings a certain amount of Playoffs experience to the Knicks. With guys like Landry Fields, Jeremy Lin and Iman “The Fearless” Shumpert in it’s core, any experienced player helps.
And he can be another weapon during clutch time, getting attention off of Melo and Lin.
Everything is not roses, obviously. There is the problem of where will Smith fit in exactly. Fields and Shumpert will lose minutes. Fields has been very inconsistent this season and he may leave the Knicks as a free agent. Taking his minutes away, may insure that he leaves.
The same energy that drives Smith, can drive him a little crazy. He will, and this is where Knicks fans will blow a gasket, take ill advised shots. He will shoot you out of games as soon as he will shoot you back into it.
His crazy shot selection can be dialed down a bit. Specially with leaders like Tyson
Chandler and Amar’e around him. Still, some of that disregard for everything around him is what makes him a dangerous player. Mike D’Antoni will have to find a way to make this effective.
Considering the situation the Knicks where in a few weeks ago, I would say this is a great situation to be in. With a new point guard, a stronger bench, and Melo and STAT back, the Knicks really can make some noise this season.
Now, if only they had a real coach on the sidelines…
- Yes, around the outside ↩