J.R. Smith’s abilities are both limited by and boosted by his confidence in his abilities. He has every bit of faith that he can make any shot he needs to, most often without the use or help of his teammates. It can propel his team to victory or send his coaches into a deep depression. Feast or famine, bombs over Baghdad, whatever you want to call it, he can score largely in part because of his belief in his ability to do so.
The Knick have their premier ISO scorer in Carmelo Anthony. Smith has come off the bench to provide reserve scoring. But this year, as has happened before, Smith wants to start. From the New York Post:
“I’d rather start. I’ve been playing [eight] years, coming off the bench,’’ Smith said yesterday. “Whether it stays [that way] or goes, I’m going to be same person I am. I prefer to start. I’d rather be a starter. If not, I understand that.’’
“It gets frustrating after a while,’’ Smith said. “People saying, “he’s a sixth man, sixth man, sixth man’’ when you believe you’re a starter. But you have to understand, it’s a team game and have to put individual goals aside.’’
So he wants to start, but if not, cool. Smith is sensitive to the frustrations he’s given coaches in the past, particularly George Karl in Denver. He wants to do what’s best for the team… he just happens to believe him starting is what’s best. He’s going to get his wish at least in the beginning, with Iman Shumpet and Ronnie Brewer both banged up. Part of it, though, is that Smith can start and not threaten the makeup of the offense. He’s used to deferring to Melo. And that’s the offense in a nutshell. As long as he gives good defensive effort, which he did last season, Woodson won’t mind if he goes ISO from time to time and puts up some, er, unique shots in, er, different situations.
You live with the bad to get the good with Smith, and with his ability to stretch the floor, starting might work out for the Knicks. Most of it will likely depend on Iman Shumpert’s health when he returns.