Monday, April 22, 2013

J.R. Smith is the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year 2012-2013

New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year.

J.R. Smith is NBA Sixth Man of the Year
by Jeff Zillgitt

At the beginning of the season, New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith made a push to join the starting lineup.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson resisted, preferring a starter's talent coming off the bench.

By the end of the season, Smith had provided such a spark off the bench this season that he earned the Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award on Monday.

Smith played in 80 of the Knicks' 82 games and didn't start once. But he averaged 18.1 points, second-best on the team behind forward Carmelo Anthony, and averaged 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 33.5 minutes per game. He shot 42.2% from the field and 35.6% on three-pointers.

Smith had competition for the award from Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (who won the award in 2009-10) and Golden State Warriors guard Jarrett Jack, plus several others, including Utah's Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, Denver's Andre Miller, Toronto's Amir Johnson and Boston's Jeff Green.

Smith was strong for the Knicks all season and outstanding down the stretch. In the two months after the All-Star break, Smith averaged 21.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals, helping New York secure the second seed in the East.

In late March, in the middle of the Knicks' 13-game winning streak, Smith scored 32, 35 and 37 points in consecutive games, making him the first player to score 30 or more points off the bench in three consecutive games since Milwaukee's Ricky Pierce in 1990. Smith was named Eastern Conference player of the week on April 1.

Smith loves to shoot, and sometimes falls too much in love with his shot. He was just 3 of 14 on three-pointers on March 3 against the Miami Heat.

But in general, Woodson is fine with Smith taking those shots. The Knicks led the league in three-pointers attempted and made and finished fifth in three-point shooting percentage (37.6%). During New York's 13-game winning streak, Smith averaged 23.2 points and shot 49.3% from the field.

When he is on and Anthony is on, the Knicks are dangerous. – USA Today

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