JR Smith: The 6th Man of the Year, and How He Got There

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NY- Growing up in the northern half of New Jersey, I’ve seen a few players in sport make it big. I became a fan of J.R. Smith for his on-court performances and his free spirit off the court. In my eyes, he represents a lot of us in North Jersey, and personally, I am very excited of his success on the New York Knicks.

JR Smith averaged over 21 PPG after the all-star break, coming off the bench. He’s become a crucial part of this team and the success the Knicks are having. Because of this, Smith and Jamal Crawford have been going neck-and-neck towards the NBA’s 6th Man Award.

Smith averages:         18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists per game

Crawford averages:    16 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists per game

JR Smith ended up getting the 6th Man Award this year.

Smith was essentially snubbed out of the All-Star game by NBA President  David Stern.

The All Stars for the annual game are all picked by fan voting. A extra spot opens up after the All Stars are picked. They had a list of four names on the NBA website, and Smith was one of them. He won the voting decidedly, with a whopping 40,000 votes. However, President Stern did not honor him with a All Star trip, and instead gave the nod to the Brooklyn Nets’ Center, Brook Lopez.

That fact makes this 6th Man Award just that much sweeter for Smith.

But before we get into this year’s accomplishment, some history of his career:

His government name is Earl Joseph Smith III, nicknamed Swish, and he was born in Freehold, New Jersey, September 9,1985. He played for Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, New Jersey for High School, and in 2004 he entered the NBA Draft.

New Orleans Hornets: 2004-2006

Rookie year average: 10.3 points, 2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. The Hornets were a poor team, but Smith was the Western Conference rookie of the month three times in 2005. In Smith’s sophomore year, the team was heavily affected by Hurricane Katrina and his numbers declined to 7.7 points 2 rebounds 1.1 assist per game. They added rookie Chris Paul to the team, and this helped them improve overall.

In July of 2006, Smith was traded twice in 6 days: first to the Chicago Bulls for just six days, then to the Denver Nuggets.

Denver Nuggets: 2006-2011

In December of 2006, Smith got involved in an on-court brawl with the Knicks’ Mardy Collins, as Collins had flagrantly fouled Smith on a fast break. Smith was suspended for 10 games as a result.

In February, 2007, Smith was injured and missed 3-4 weeks for a torn meniscus on his left knee. Despite missing time due to suspension and injuries, Smith put up a solid first season in Denver, averaging 13 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

July 2008: Smith was added to the USA Basketball team.

In 2009’s All-Star weekend, Smith was selected to be in the NBA Dunk Contest.

Overall, Smith clearly improved each year in Denver, but Coach George Karl held back his devopment. Coach Woodson showed a lot of trust and helped him develop his game.

Zhejiang Golden Bulls: 2011-2012

Smith signed to the Chinese Basketball Association during the 2011 NBA lockout; he did not sign a opt-out clause, so he had to finish out the season with them. One game, Smith dropped an astounding 60 points for the Bulls, priming him for his NBA return the following year. He was selected for the Foreign Player of the Week Award, as well as being selected to the Southern Division All-Stars. Smith’s Bulls were unable make the playoffs, and he signed with the Knicks just five days later.

New York Knicks: 2012-Present

Smith started his Knicks debut with 15 points, scoring three 3-pointers. The rest of 2011, he would work on becoming a roll player on the team. At seasons’ end, he sat down with Coach Woodson and showed he is a loyal player to the Knicks by resigning to New York with a small contract. It is noteworthy that he had offers with larger contracts, but he choose New York for less money. The whole Knicks team then worked hard in the offseason to become better.

Smith’s game has continued tp improve and has become controlled this year. Statistically, he’s having his best career year and his relationship with Coach Woodson is paying off, becoming a fan favorite with his style as well.

More importantly, he has emerged as the Knicks spark off the bench. As this 2013 regular season moved forward, Smith became the Knicks’ second best scoring option. A example of his impact was during a Miami Heat game in Miami. Carmelo Anthony did not play due to injury, and Smith led the Knicks to a blowout over Miami in a hyped away game for New York.

Anthony and Smith are currently on a playoff run, and seem to be a one-two punch the Knicks needed with Amare’s injuries. Smith will be a free agent and will certainly own the off season talk: For him, it’s a great time to get the 6th Man Award.

First thing’s first: Smith’s working on giving the Knicks a Championship. 

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