Smith appears to have matured as a member of the Knicks and the result has been the best year so far in his eight-year career. Smith is averaging career-highs in scoring at 18.1 points as well as 5.3 boards; also a career high. Smith has done this without starting a single game. That type of production in a reserve role should be rewarded.
Even more, Smith has been outstanding since the All-Star break as he has combined with Carmelo Anthony to form one of the most potent one-two perimeter scoring duos in the league. Smith is averaging 21.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in 30 games since the break, while also shooting .455 from the field and .379 from three-point range, both respectable percentages for a player with Smith’s erratic shot selection.
J.R. Smith appears to have found a home and a role perfectly suited for his skill set and personality. Knicks head coach Mike Woodson has found a way to get through to Smith and therefore has gotten the most out of him. Smith has bought in to the Knicks style of play, which features a lot of isolation and a ton of three-point attempts, both right in line with what Smith does best.
Smith’s contract has a $2.9 million player option for next season and it’s all but a reality that he will return to the Knicks next season. And after the regular season ends, Smith should be raising the Sixth Man Award. He’s earned it.