The New York Knicks signed JR Smith today, potentially adding the final piece to the puzzle of a team who all of a sudden looks like a very real contender in the Eastern Conference.
Smith provides a needed knock down shooter at the guard position and offensive firepower off the bench. There aren’t anymore valid questions about the Knicks depth right now. Even if Baron Davis doesn’t come back healthy, and by all indications he is coming back for the second half of the year, Iman Shumpert and Smith provide an explosive, athletic duo off the bench at guard. Up front, the Knicks have defensive depth with Jared Jeffries and offensive depth with Steve Novak and Josh Harrellson returning from injury in the coming weeks.
Let’s not act like the Knicks haven’t dug themselves out of a big hole with their recent 7 game winning streak. A win tonight puts them ahead of Boston in the standings and within 2.5 games of Indiana for the six seed in the East. They are also only 5 games behind a Philadelphia team in their division that is bound to cool off eventually.
That being said, we are going to learn everything we need to know about this Knicks roster in their first nine games of March. When they play nine straight against viable playoff contenders, including games in Boston, Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago, and Indiana. Right now, I think there is no reason the Knicks can’t assert themselves as the third best team in the East. They have a chance to prove it during that stretch of games.
I don’t buy into the Carmelo Anthony can’t fit hype. People talk about Anthony like he has been a loser his whole life and like he didn’t win a National Championship and a Gold Medal. Anthony was the best player on that Gold Medal run and managed to share the ball fine with his teammates. A quality point guard a dream come true for him. It will only provide easier looks for him and take pressure off him on the offensive end. You really think the Knicks are downgrading by moving Bill Walker out of the starting line-up for Anthony?
As for Smith, he prevents us from ever having to see Mike Bibby or Toney Douglas on the floor again and he is a more natural scorer than Landry Fields or Iman Shumpert. I am a little concerned about how backcourt minutes will be distributed when Davis comes back, but ultimately in this system and in this shortened season, you can’t have enough weapons.