J.R. Smith has been lauded for his play in New York this season, coming off the bench to provide a solid scoring punch at 16.6 points per game, while giving the team an active defensive presence on the perimeter.
Smith’s name, along with that of the Clippers’ Jamal Crawford, has been widely mentioned when discussing Sixth Man of the Year honors.
But J.R. has a more immediate goal — he wants to make the All-Star team.
“My eyes are on being an All-Star, honestly,’’ Smith told The Post late Thursday after the Knicks hammered the mighty Spurs. “I’m not focusing on Sixth Man. Sixth Man is more long-term, honestly, end of the year. My individual goal right now is All-Star, then I’ll think about the Sixth Man. I’m trying to be that All-Star coming off the bench for my team.’’
It’s not as crazy as it may sound.
Smith doesn’t even appear on the All-Star ballot, but fans were unlikely to vote him in over Dwyane Wade or Rajon Rondo anyway. Where Smith has a shot is with the coaches, who vote in the All-Star reserves for each conference.
All-Star rosters typically have three guards beyond those in the starting lineup. Kyrie Irving seems almost certain to get one of them, and Jrue Holiday has been gaining buzz as of late for his worthy performance this season, so he’s a good bet for one of the two remaining spots.
After that, things begin to get murky. You have Deron Williams and Ray Allen as some famous names who have been deserving in the past, but neither has proven themselves as a clear-cut All-Star based solely on performance this season.
All of this is to say that Smith has a chance, and a more-than-decent one, at that.
It would mean three All-Stars for the Knicks, assuming Tyson Chandler is selected, along with Carmelo Anthony who will be voted in as a starter. But New York has one of the top teams in the league playing in its largest market, so it’s well within the realm of possibility — as long as Smith continues to play the way he has.