We’ve learned that Carmelo Anthony can’t do it all by himself. He’s simply not that type of player. Anthony is a great scorer. He can get to the rim and score baskets at ease sometimes. Other times, he can make 3-pointer after 3-pointer. When Carmelo is hot, no one can stop him. But what happens when Carmelo is cold? When he can’t make a shot, the New York Knicks seem desperate. The rest of the team begins forcing shots and it’s because they don’t have a clear secondary scorer. J.R. Smith is supposed to be that guy.
The Knicks signed Smith to a 3-year, $17.95 million contract last offseason. The contract was clearly a mistake as Smith has not lived up to the type of player he was supposed to be. But it’s not that Smith isn’t capable of being the scorer he was in the 2012-13 season. Many times, it seems like J.R. lacks the heart and drive necessary to succeed and win in the NBA. Smith has had many occasions where he’s displayed immaturity and unprofessional behavior. Whether he’s untying Dwight Howard’s shoelace during a game or pulling off Vince Carter’s headband, he’s obviously an individual incapable of playing a man’s game.
When you forget about all of Smith’s delinquent actions, he’s still a good shooter. At the end of the day, Smith needs to be the guy who makes shots when Carmelo Anthony cannot. Even when Anthony is hitting on all cylinders, the Knicks need another option from the perimeter and Smith is supposed to be that player. Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler haven’t been the players they’ve been in the past and someone needs to pick the team up.
J.R. hasn’t had a terrible season. He’s averaging 13.4 ppg, 3.1 apg and 4.0 rpg. But Smith is very streaky. He can shoot 60 percent from the field or 30 percent from the field on any given night. He simply has it or he doesn’t. A key reason why the Knicks are struggling to make the playoffs at this point in the season is because J.R. Smith is their second leading scorer. When a player as hit-or-miss as Smith is your second-best scorer, you aren’t going to win many games. Smith needs to get hot and start making shots consistently to give the Knicks a shot this season as well as next season.