J.R. Smith's Defensive Play of the Year vs Mavs
In my opinion, J.R. Smith is the worst basketball player in the NBA this season. As of January 6th, 2014, "Chucky Cheese" Smith is shooting a pitiful .348 from the field, and a Dwight Howard-esq .619 from the foul line. I am fully confident that any star shooting guard that I grew up watching in the early 90's could come out of retirement right now and outproduce this chump. John Starks, Latrell Sprewell, Mitch Richmond, even the late Drazen Petrovic and Reggie Lewis would all be upgrades over Smith at this point. However, for all of his obvious flaws as a no talent @$$ clown chuck artist, J.R. Smith showed me something during the Knicks' January 5th win vs the Dallas Mavericks that I never thought I'd see from him this year. He showed me that he is actually pulling his weight for once.
While awaiting two free throw attempts from Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki late in the second quarter, Smith quickly swooped down to un-tie the shoelace of Dallas forward Shawn Marion. Because Smith waited until the second and final free throw attempt to pull this stunt, Marion was then considered to be on defense and un-able to take a timeout by rule. As a result, Marion was forced to play the following defensive sequence with one loose shoe and Andrea Bangnani was able to score a basket for the Knicks.
On the surface, this play by Smith will be viewed by many as a childish move and a bush-league act, which it was. After all, nobody in their right mind would want someone to teach their children such poor sportsmanship. But this is J.R. Smith we're talking about here, we already know he is not in his right mind. All of his in-game mental meltdowns during key situations this year could have told you that.
What we didn't know about Smith is that he actually cares about gaining an edge over his opponents. All along, I have accused Smith of mailing it in this year after he signed his 3-year $18 million contract over the summer. I thought Smith was just a sad case of an NBA player that was just going through the motions, getting complacent, and not caring if his team won or lost this whole time. So although Smith displayed the maturity of a 6-year old during this incident, I was actually encouraged to see that his head was in the game and that he cared enough to make an effort to help his team score a bucket. While I don't applaud Smith for resorting to this tactic, I believe this action shows that Smith was actually thinking on the court which would be a welcomed change for the dim-wit.
Yes, J.R. Smith's woeful shooting continued as he went 3-8 from the field vs Dallas and scored a measly 7 points. Yes, his mental blunders also continued as he obviously didn't know how much time was left on the clock at the end of the first half and lollygagged the ball up the court. But perhaps Smith has made a turn for the better in 2014 because while it is apparent that Smith has absolutely no skills to speak of on the court, at least now, he is justifying his very existence on the team by helping the Knicks in some form or fashion.
Let's be honest: Smith could not shoot the basketball even if his life depended on it. He is not a great passer, he cannot rebound particularly well, he provides no veteran leadership whatsoever, and his defense is down right abominable. So by resorting to this dumb little trick to help the Knicks score a basket, Smith is at least giving the Knicks some monetary value in exchange for that mistake contract they so willingly signed him to this past summer. Simply put, that stunt he pulled against Shawn Marion was J.R. Smith's biggest defensive play of the year.