Carmelo Anthony is on one of the most impressive scoring runs in recent memory, putting up a combined 131 points over his last three games for the New York Knicks. But while Anthony is on a roll, sixth man extraordinaire J.R. Smith has been playing really well in his own right.
Smith has been one of the NBA‘s more productive scorers off the bench and is averaging 17.8 points per game without a single start this season. When the Knicks needed scoring with Anthony and Amare Stoudemire both out with injuries, they turned to Smith and he responded with a couple of 30 point games to keep New York from falling apart.
Even more, Smith has been on an absolute tear since the All-Star break. Smith is averaging 21 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists while shooting .446 from the field — which is pretty good for a player with Smith’s shot selection. Smith has even scored 30 or more points six times over the last month.
Smith is one the floor for about 33.5 minutes a game so he’s essentially like a starter in regards to playing time. He also has the green light enjoyed by few other reserves thanks to Knicks head coach Mike Woodson‘s isolation-heavy offense, and with Stoudemire still out Smith is the clear second option for New York behind Anthony.
The Knicks will only go as far as the shooting of Anthony and Smith can take them. Teams that rely so heavily on perimeter shooting don’t go deep in the playoffs, but if Anthony and Smith can continue to combine for 50+ points a night, anything is possible in the postseason.