Can The Knicks Afford To Lose JR Smith?

On March 12th I posited that JR Smith’s presence as a focal point of the Knicks’ offense was detrimental to their cause, and that they should let him walk at the end of the year. My argument was that he was flashy and exciting, but his transient, surfacy traits came at the expense of efficiency and ultimately wins. I made the point that an average of only about 1.55 players in each of the last 20 years was as inefficient as Smith, taking into account shooting percentage and shot volume.

Almost as soon as I hit publish, the character of his game changed entirely: Instead of settling for contested threes, he began to drive to the basket, take and make shots near the rim, and draw fouls. It sure seems like something clicked, and if JR can play this way consistently there is no question that the Knicks would suffer a huge loss if he left as a free agent.* From March 13th to March 29th (I excluded JR’s last two games – to be nice), JR has averaged 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, 8.2 FTA, and shot 48% on 16.8 shots. As a similar experiment to that in my March 12th post, I decided to look at players who have accomplished those kinds of numbers over the course of a season. Here’s your list dating to ’84-85:

JR Comparators


*In case you are curious, the Knicks have early bird rights on JR. This means they can offer him up to the league average, around $5-$6 million.


Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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