The Return of JR Smith
Knick's reigning Sixth Man of the Year, JR Smith, is set to return to the lineup Sunday following his 5-game suspension for violating the substance abuse policy. JR will look to put a tumultuous offseason that featured a knee injury, suspension, criticized signing of his brother, and spats with the cross town rival nets in the rear view mirror. After having his dedication and focus questioned, it will be important that JR steps into the rotation and makes an immediate impact. In the 5 games this season without JR, the Knicks often found themselves struggling to find offense and a legitimate Robin to Carmelo Anthony's Batman. Not to say that JR is going to come step in and save the day, but his signature step-back jumper and ability to create for himself is something the Knicks team has been missing in his absence. The easiest way for JR to show his coach, teammates, and organization that his focus is in the right place is to duplicate his career year and sustain it throughout the playoffs.
What does this mean for the Knicks Rotation?
Although Mike Woodson has flirted with the idea of inserting JR into the starting lineup, it is my belief he will return to his familiar role leading the second unit. After all, JR shined in this role last season, so if it's not broke why fix it? Bringing JR off the bench will allow him to be the focal point of the offense and offer space for him to operate. Tim Hardaway Jr. may be the player whose minutes are negatively effected by the return of Smith. Tim has shown himself to be a quality addition to the Knicks rotation, but he is still a rookie and could benefit from some time to analyze and learn. Depending on the situation and matchups, Iman Shumpert may also see a decrease in minutes. Woodson may not start JR, but he still loves to use him to finish games and offer a second option to Carmelo Anthony down the stretch of games.
What to expect from JR:
JR Smith has shown himself to be a new age John Starks. There is no secret that he is a shooter and if his shot is not falling, he will not be shy about letting the next one go. He is a prototypical streak shooter, and will take a number of bad shots. As a Knicks fan, you will need to take the good with the bad. JR may go the first 3 quarters shooting 3-12 from the field, and all of a sudden knock down a big shot in crunch time. The opposite could also be the case. Nevertheless, JR is a major piece to the puzzle. His presence alone is a valued commodity to the Knicks offense.
What Knicks fans want to see:
As a fan, your number one concern should be where JR's head is at. After signing a new contract prior to the season, expectations for JR are at an all-time high. It will be on his shoulders to stay composed not only on the court, but off it as well. I believe I speak for the entire fanbase by saying, we do not want to see any nightclub pictures the day before a big game or explicit images posted on twitter.
I’m more disappointed because I let my teammates and my coaches down, more than anything, and I let Mr. Dolan down.- JR Smith speaking on his 5-game suspension