J.R. Smith is having the best season of his eight-year career in the NBA in 2012-13. He has been arguably the second best player on the New York Knicks, who are currently one of the best teams in the league at 23-10, and he has been defending at a high level which is something he has rarely done in his career prior to this season.
He is averaging 16.7 PPG, but has scored 15+ points in each of his last 15 games, including back-to-back outputs of 28, 27, 26, and 25 over the span. He has grabbed 5+ rebounds in each of his last 10 games, and is averaging 5.2 boards per game this season.
Despite the fact that he does not start for New York, Smith is contributing 33 minutes per game in 2012-13, the highest of his career. In addition to scoring, rebounding, distributing, and giving consistent minutes, Smith has been defending at a level that he never has before. Coach Mike Woodson should get most of the credit for that, as he also has gotten superstar Carmelo Anthony to buckle down on the defensive end, as well.
Whether Smith deserves to be an All-Star, and whether or not he actually will get a spot in the game are two different stories. Smith has comparable numbers to Dwyane Wade (19 PPG), Rajon Rondo (13 PPG, 11 APG), and Deron Williams (16 PPG), but may not be able to accumulate the amount of votes needed to knock off one of those superstars.
Regardless, Smith has become a superstar in his own right. He is a fan favorite in New York, and is one of the main reasons that the Knicks are in the position that they are in.
Smith has been the “Robin” to Anthony’s “Batman,” and that dynamic duo could be the ones to save “Gotham City” from its 39 year championship drought.