J.R. Smith has come out and said that he wants to be a starter for the New York Knicks. His comments made me wonder whether or not he should start for New York, and whether his game actually fits the role of a starter. Smith is a high energy player who can score in bunches, but rarely sees a shot that he doesn’t like. He shoots more than his role on the team warrants, and doesn’t really care what anyone thinks about it.
The Knicks have a guard heavy roster that includes Smith, James White, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Chris Smith (J.R.’s younger brother), Ronnie Brewer, and Oscar Bellfield. Felton has been announced as the starting PG, with Kidd backing him up, but the SG spot is wide open. Brewer and Shumpert are both currently sidelined with injuries, leaving an opportunity for Smith, who backed up Landry Fields last year, to take advantage of the vacancy.
Carmelo Anthony (SF), A’mare Stoudemire (PF), and Tyson Chandler (C) have their respective positions locked up, but the Knicks do have a deep bench that Coach Mike Woodson is confident will produce this season. New York got tremendous production from Steve Novak, who became the best three point shooter in the NBA, and Shumpert, who became an elite perimeter defender, in 2011-2012.
So, with all of this talent, the question remains: who should start? Smith will likely be the starter until Shumpert and Brewer return. But when the defensive-minded duo does come back to the court, this debate will rekindle. Here is my starting five for the healthy Knickerbockers:
PG Raymond Felton
SG Iman Shumpert
SF Carmelo Anthony
PF A’mare Stoudemire
C Tyson Chandler
I give Shumpert the nod to start because of his defensive prowess. His offensive game has room to improve, but his ability to lock down on the opponent’s best player is unparalleled by anyone else on the Knicks roster, including Smith. With Anthony and Stoudemire on the court, the last thing that the Knicks need is someone to take away shots from them. Shumpert and Chandler will lead the defensive attack, while Felton will “swish and dish,” as Walt Clyde Frazier says.
Smith will most definitely contribute to the Knicks season, but he should do it coming off the bench.
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