New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith will be taking home the NBA’s Sixth Man Award. It is hard to argue against Smith receiving the award after he appeared in 80 games for the Knicks, all off of the bench, and averaged 18.1 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, and 1.25 steals per game. Smith’s 1446 points, 18.1 PPG average, and 5.3 RPG average were all career highs.
Smith was invaluable to the Knicks this season coming off the bench and providing instant offense and a legitimate threat from beyond the arc where he shot .356 on 155-for-436 shooting. He scored 20 or more points off the bench 29 times to tie him for the lead in the NBA with former Knick and current Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford.
The Knicks might not have won their first Atlantic Division title since 1994 if it hadn’t been for Smith who had a knack for clutch performances late in games. He made several game-winning shots including a fadeaway jumper against the Charlotte Bobcats that gave the Knicks a 100-98 win in December. He also hit another game-winner in December against the Phoenix Suns when the Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton. Smith scored 27 points against the Suns that night.
One could argue that Smith is the co-MVP of the Knicks with Carmelo. Without Smith the Knicks season might have gone in a much different direction. Certainly, without his game-winning shots the Knicks would not have won the division.
Smith is the second Knick in as many season to take home a post-season award. Last year, Tyson Chandler, a player Smith was once traded for, was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Smith signed a $2.8 million contract with a player option and claims to have spurned larger offers for a chance to win a championship.
The Knicks have scheduled a news conference for this afternoon where Smith will be given the award capping what has, at least so far, been a storybook season for the eight-year veteran.