[This was originally meant to be pitched to the New York Post, but I decided to run it here.]
The Knicks have fared as well this November as the Democrats, with both suffering a significant number of losses. And while the Dems will need to wait until 2016 to make some progress, the Knicks could get some immediate gains. New York has an absolute gem on their bench in Jason Smith. And if they use him more, the team will surely turn things around before the season is up.
New York picked Smith off the dump heap this summer with their Mid Level Exception. Jason was originally drafted by the Sixers, before being traded to the Hornets. The 7 foot forward received sporadic playing time with New Orleans in his 4 years there.
Fisher’s confidence in Smith has wavered throughout this young season. Even though he has started 3 times, Smith has seen as few as 6 minutes, and never more than 27. Much like his previous stints, it appears that Jason keeps getting inconsistent playing time.
However if Fisher were to call his number more, Smith’s jump shooting may be a key to mid-season comeback for New York. Of his field goal attempts, only 7% has been from three feet or closer. Smith helps balance the triangle offense by giving New York a real threat from mid-range. If the team gives him more than his current 17.0 minutes per game, Jason Smith’s 7.1 points per game could easily double, and the number of rebounds he pulls down would increase too.
Considering the big men on the Knicks’ bench, namely Quincy Acy and the dreadful Cole Aldrich, it’s a no-brainer to give Smith nearly all of the minutes at the 4 or 5 that aren’t given to Dalembert or Stoudemire.
OK you alert KnickerBlogger readers still here? Great! Here’s the deal, Jason Smith is absolutely killing this team! OK, he sports a healthy 53.7% TS%, but he’s so deficient in all other areas it doesn’t nearly make up for his other weaknesses. It would be like giving a cupcake to a person suffering from starvation. Sure, they need the calories, but without the nutrients they’re going to die of malnutrition. [I know it’s a bleak analogy, but this has been a dark season for Knick fans. I don’t have a care-free comparison. I tried a Chutes and Ladders one, but that got too wordy. ]
Smith’s most obvious weakness: his atrocious rebounding. How is it possible that someone 7 feet tall with functioning circulatory system pulls down only 4.9 rebounds per 36 minutes? There are only 5 NBA players who were 7 feet tall in the 3 point era that have rebounded as poorly as Smith in as many minutes. Luckily the Knicks have one of these other players on their roster (hint: it’s Bargnani). The Knicks are 29th in defensive rebounding percentage, and Smith has been on the court 35% of the time. Coincidence?
According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Knicks are 12.4 points worse per 100 possessions with Smith on the floor. That number is the worst on the team. New York’s defense is -10.2 points when Jason plays. Again, he is worst on the team in this stat. So any chance that his “hard nosed defense” is a benefit to the team is laughable.
All said, more Jason Smith is good for this team. They do have their own pick in the upcoming draft.