Wednesday, April 10, 2013
J.R. Smith 'tired of' inconsistent label
By Ian Begley
J.R. Smith knows what some of you are thinking. He knows some of you are watching him play in recent weeks and wondering when the other shoe will drop, wondering when "Bad J.R." will again inhabit the No. 8 jersey.
But he’s here to tell you -- and show you -- that you can forget about it. Smith says his inconsistent play is a thing of the past.
Listen to J.R. Smith on "The Michael Kay Show."
"I’ve been known as an inconsistent player (but) I’m just tired of hearing that," Smith said last week on ESPN New York 98.7. "I just want to be as consistent as I can be to help my teammates and give us our best chance to win."
That's exactly what he's done over the past three weeks.
During the Knicks' 13-game winning streak, Smith has been a model of consistency.
He’s scoring 23.2 points per game on 49 percent shooting since the streak started March 18 against the Jazz; prior to that date, Smith averaged 16.7 points per game on 40 percent shooting.
The cause of Smith’s turnaround is simple, really: he’s taking better shots.
The Knicks' sixth man has doubled the percentage of shots he takes in the restricted area during the winning streak (15.6 percent before 3/18; 33 percent since).
He’s also taken a significantly lower percentage of mid-range jumpers since the streak started (36.8 percent of his attempts were midrange jumpers prior to 3/18; he’s down to 27.4 percent since).
"My jumper’s been on and off a lot this year and I’d been relying way too much on it," Smith said during an interview on "The Michael Kay Show." "When I drive, no one can really stay in front of me ... and it helps out our shooters because eventually everybody’s going to have to collapse and I’m able to find (an open) shooter."
The increase in trips into the paint has also helped Smith get to the free-throw line.
Prior to March 18, Smith averaged 3.2 free-throw attempts per game. In the last 13 games, that number has jumped to 7.2. Also, his true shooting percentage, which accounts for free-throws and three-pointers, has climbed from 40 percent to 50 percent.
All of the numbers have catapulted Smith into the conversation for the NBA’s Sixth Man Award. They've also increased the price tag for Smith this summer, when he tests free-agency.
But he’s not worried about that at the moment. Rather, Smith insists he’s focused on one thing: staying consistent.
"This is the best I think I’ve played right now," Smith said. "Every day and every game is being consistent, that’s the biggest thing."