The New York Knicks are going to rely heavily on reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith throughout the upcoming 2013-2014 NBA season. Smith is going to be their second primary scorer behind Carmelo Anthony and will, at times, be asked to carry the Knicks team, particularly when Anthony spends brief amounts of time on the bench to rest.
However, as we’ve all heard by now, Smith will not be able to play in the first five games of the season as Smith has been suspended by the NBA for violating their substance abuse policy, likely for testing positive for marijuana. Moreover, Smith has an unsure recovery time after having surgery on a torn meniscus and on his patella tendon. Because of the wording in the league’s suspension, his penalty won’t kick in until he’s fully healthy, meaning he could be out for even longer.
The Knicks might be without Smith, but the Smith suspension will allow them to get a good early look at rookie guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who will likely serve as Smith’s replacement while he sits out. New York selected Hardaway with the 24th overall pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, a pick that many people saw as a steal that late in the first round.
Hardaway brings a lot of things to the table that Smith does. He has a ton of offensive ability, but was often saddled with a label of being inconsistent while he was in college. However, he will have the opportunity to prove his value early in the upcoming season and will have the chance to create a new identity for himself in the NBA. The Knicks could seriously miss Smith while he’s out, but Hardaway Jr., if he performs well, could soften the blow.
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