It all started with Phil Jackson saying of J.R. Smith’s level of maturity, “He might be one of those guys that’s a little bit like Dennis Rodman that has an outlier kind of side to him.”
While the rest of us tried to picture Smith with Rodman’s multi-color hair, Smith took Jackson’s comparison as a compliment: “Last time I checked Dennis Rodman’s got what three, four rings? I’m not offended by that. It’s an honor. He’s a Hall of Famer. And to be put in the same words as a Hall of Famer is something special. So I’m not offended at all.” (For the record, it’s five rings.)
Now Rodman himself is down with the comparison.
Here’s the thing — Rodman was a great fit for Jackson’s triangle. He would do the dirty work on the glass, plus in his prime he was a lockdown defender. Rodman brought energy, moved the ball and moved off the ball. (people tend to forget just how athletic Rodman was).
J.R. Smith has been a ball stopper on offense his entire career, and while he has the skills to get points that way it is the death of the triangle to stop the ball and look for isolations. His traditional game is a poor fit for the triangle.
Maybe he changes. People deserve that chance. But Smith has a long way to go to be Rodman.