Stats Corner: J.R. Smith needs to pass the ball more

Stats Corner is a new column that breaks down a players production using in-depth stats and NBA player tracking. If you don’t like stats, this probably isn’t the column for you.

Harris Decker

It’s getting old but this is going to become the question of the day until Mike Woodson makes his plans known. Will J.R. Smith play tonight against the Pacers?

NBA: Washington Wizards at New York KnicksAfter his benching, he played great for two games before reports surfaced that a confrontation with Woodson and arriving late to a team meeting got him benched in the loss to the Bobcats.

Against the Pacers, the Knicks will need everyone to be hitting their shots. They are facing a team that plays smothering defense, giving up an NBA low 88.1 points per game. They’re going to need all hands on deck and that includes a focused Smith.

If Smith is not focused, then he might as well not play. In games where he’s been locked in, he’s been great this year, shooting for a high percentage and passing effectively. When I say “passing effectively,” I’m really just saying passing the ball. He hasn’t done much of it this year and that must improve.

Smith records only 40.2 passes per game, ranked 76th among players that play more than 32 minute per game and that have played in at least 31 games (regulars). That’s just crazy for a guard. He passes 36.9 times, less per game than league leading Kemba Walker (point guard) and is passing about as much as Dwight Howard (center) and Paul Millsap (power forward).

Not only is he a bad passer, he’s not recording assists on the passes he makes. He records fewer passes than almost any guard in the NBA and is currently ranked No. 16 in assists among shooting guards with just 3.1 per game. Goran Dragic is the league leader with 6 APG.

Here’s some perspective on Smith. Lance Stephenson is one of the few shooting guards that passes less than Smith per game (39.6 passes per game). What’s different is that Stephenson is ranked 5th in the league in assists at shooting guard with 5.2 and 12 points created from assists per game. Smith is creating just 7.7 points per game from his assists.

Truth is, Smith will always be a shoot first, pass second guard. But when he’s struggling and taking shots from what is basically half court, he needs to look to pass more. We’ve seen it from Carmelo Anthony, passing the ball more to Amare Stoudemire in the post and the same recipe could lead to success for Smith.




46 comments
orlando_knickfan
orlando_knickfan

We are going to get absolutely punched in the mouth at the start.  How we respond to that is going to determine a win or a long long night.  

I don't know what to expect tonight and it has NOTHING to do with Tuesday because that game was a classic fatigue let down type of game. 

Also, with the way BKN is playing, I am not foreseeing good things the next 3 games.

Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

There are a lot of different passes in hoops. You have the "I'm passing the ball to you cause I picked up my dribble and need it back immediately" pass. Then there is the "I can't take this guy, so here, see what you can do" pass. "Yikes, there's 5 seconds left on the shot clock and I'm getting rid of it to anyone, hopefully Melo" pass. 

But the best pass is the "Man, that girl in the front row looks sweet. Man, let me pass the ball to her" pass by Amar'e.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

My sources have informed me that the entire Indy team will be equipped with a sneaker speaker mic where a hidden Larry Bird will be hypnotically saying

"JRRRRRRRR, You know ya wanna untie me, come on brotha, FREE ME!"

while any Indy player is shooting foul shots and JR is in the game! 

Good thing I have great sources!

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho


Repost: 


Vogel said that Bargnani at the 5 and Melo at the 4 creates more problems for Indy because Hibbert will have to come out of the paint a bit to guard Bargnani giving Melo/Felton a better lane to the basket. They'll probably have Paul George and Granger guard Melo. If that's the case, then whoever David West is guarding needs to take advantage of that matchup...particularly Shumpert. 


Just some stats for everyone. Make of them what you will:


Ian Begley @IanBegley 

Since the start of the calendar year, Carmelo Anthony has averaged 25.1 PPG on 44% shooting. Paul George has scored 18.6 PPG on 37% shooting


Chris Herring @HerringWSJ 

Knicks have been dominant w/ Melo-Bargnani lineups in past 10 gms: 122 pts per 100 plays on O; allowing 87 pts per 100 plays on D in 30 mins


Chris Herring @HerringWSJ

Knicks are shooting 84.6% (22-of-26) at the rim w/ Melo-Bargnani at the 4/5 over the past 10 games. Getting higher % of looks from rim, too.

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho

There was a time this season where JR Iso'd the most on the team. More than *GASP* Carmelo Anthony! JR gets into trouble when he dribbles too much with no purpose. Frankly, it scares me lol. I wonder if his play this season has anything to do with his knee surgery. Even in the Philly and Phoenix games, where he seemed more focused than usual, he still wasn't himself. I mean, he scored 14 and 11 points, I believe. He was more aggressive last season. Come playoff time, if JR is still here (I believe he will be), we need him to be playing even better. Carmelo is going to need that extra guy that can create his own shot. Raymond does it sometimes, just not consistently. 

Blaze NYK
Blaze NYK

The thing is JR has a lot of talent and skill.  I think the knee has bothered him this year but he can be a good defender when he locks in.  He's a great rebounder for a SG.  He also has a good handle and can pass well, drive and kick, run the pick and roll.  If he was smart he would focus more on these aspects of his game and try to be more of a SG/PG hybrid.  Cause we know he is capable.  Get his teammates involved and then when the defense has to focus on these other guys, boom, then take shots.  When JR moves the ball, gets others involved, focuses on D and rebounds and takes shot in the flow of the offense he is a really great basketball player!  I understand he can't get to the rim as much this year (yet) because of the knee but 99 percent of his problems are between his ears.  He wants to be "the man" and score.  But what he doesn't realize is he is much more the man when he focuses on the other aspects of the game and let the offense come to him

Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

No knock, but I would like to see THJR pass statistics. He never passes up a shot.

Rob Kulish
Rob Kulish

As bad as naming Raymond Felton Player of the Week for allowing opponents to completely run circles around him each and every game, is as good and original as this post is. Pretty cool.

ds2488
ds2488

Harris, in what world has JR Smith had games where he's been "locked in" and "shooting for a high percentage" this season?  Guy is having a historically bad shooting season and I believe he's only hit 50% shooting in ONE game this entire season.  



onewhoknix
onewhoknix

Im tired of the JR Smith articles. This dude is a scrub as far as I am concerned and no organization who wants to one day win a title shouldn't entertain this guy anymore. If we need his body because of injuries then I can see playing him. Stop acting like title aspirations rely on JR Smith.

So much fuss and distraction over a scrub. Look at Demarcus Cousins. Last year the Kings were about to get rid of him and now he is a beast. How the hell did he turn his attitude around after one year when JR Smith cant turn it around in 10. Done with this topic

onewhoknix
onewhoknix

Knicks bad boy J.R. Smith is baaaack! Mike Woodson said Smith will play Thursday when the Knicks face the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “I need J.R. every game, every game I need J.R.,’’ Woodson said at the morning shootaround. “And J.R. will be back in uniform today and we’ll go from there."

I have never seen a guy so infatuated with 34% fg shooting and zero motivation.

Winston Hadaway
Winston Hadaway

When I saw how JR played against Phillie and Phoenix after coming off punishment in Miami was great if he could only stay focus all that chatter about stats could be put to rest!!

Seth Nadler
Seth Nadler

It would take a lot of balls for Woody to start the game with the lineup that just won 5 straight, of Bargs, Kmart, Melo, Shump, and Felton.  Woody continues to force that big lineup with Tyson, Bargs and Melo and it just flat out doesn't work

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

I've said this before and I'll say it again (and it's got nothing to do with JR, just in general):


People look at the stat line and pass judgment. Personally, recording the assist is one thing, but what if your extra pass led to someone else finding an open teammate? What if your kick out led to ball movement for an open shot?

Aren't you just as responsible for the bucket as the player that made the direct assist?

It's team ball right?


But of course, people will go on numbers and won't see what's really going on out there.

onewhoknix
onewhoknix

...and I need more money in my bank account.

melo7
melo7

Worst joke of all time goes to

lobcity1
lobcity1

I hope Woody challenge Shump to be aggressive today.

Lee Lewin
Lee Lewin

@zdiddy4nyk I'd love to see how much time with the ball in their hands each player has Per Possession. My money would be that for every possession thy have the ball, JR is significantly higher in time that he has the ball and more times he has the ball, allowing for more times he'll have higher Assists per 48 min.


As flawed as you think this article is, your argument is even more flawed considering that more often than not, JR is dribbling out the shot clock and if he does make a pass it is not a high probability shot that his teammates are making as the shot clock runs down to zero.


I guess its easy to Back up JR when you are clouded in judgement. 

rkj473
rkj473

@zdiddy4nyk Lol I admire you for putting that together, however one flaw in your argument is THjr and Shump don't have the ball in their hands as much as JR does. 


So, while I understand what you're saying, you didn't consider the JR has the ball more than both Shump and THjr. Naturally he should have more assist.

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho

@Blaze NYK I agree with everything you said except the handle part lol. I don't think JR's handles are that good. I think he gets into trouble when he dribbles because it's often with no real purpose. 

bb_dot
bb_dot

@Caroline Rios I'd sign him for the Knicks in a heart beat, lol. He may be challenged keeping his man in front of him but on offense he would be our second best option right away! On a more serious note, these kinds of players are more and more rare in today's professional sports. Different times, different ethics.

Seth Nadler
Seth Nadler

Knicks have been dominant w/ Melo-Bargnani lineups in past 10 gms: 122 pts per 100 plays on O; allowing 87 pts per 100 plays on D in 30 mins

Harris Decker
Harris Decker

@VerySilentJay Obviously this is true, but that is a constant for every single player in the league. Every player's stats will reflect that type of scenario. Therefore, as a comparison, they are still valid.

Winston Hadaway
Winston Hadaway

@SheSaidSpikeWho ,If you don`t think JR handles are not all that I beg to differ , it ain`t but a few players out there right now who could stick and hold JR and I mean a few...no disrespect to his teammates Hardaway jr. and Shumpert but they don`t have that court savvy and guile like JR don`t get me wrong now he`s still a knucklehead sometimes, but that`s why Woody need him back in the fold asap..... just my humble opinion sorry!!

Caroline Rios
Caroline Rios

Yeah I miss pure shooters! I guess there's Stephen Curry, but that's it! I miss players like Reggie Miller, to watch him run around the court was like poetry to me! Anyway what West did in that video at age 75 is incredible and makes me want to get off my fat ass and do something. Lol

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@Harris Decker @VerySilentJay Yet you refer to direct assists, which is only a small part of strong ball movement. Unless you have a PG that averages double digit assists, your average will be 20+ as a team.

Passing is a must for every palyer, and it normally won't show in their stat ilne because a bucket often comes from multiple passes.

Lee Lewin
Lee Lewin

@zdiddy4nyk @Lee Lewin Yes JR can create his own shot, but for the amount of times he gets double and tripled teams he should have a much higher assist per 48 number. Its incredible how low it is in comparison to guys who have the ball as much as him and hog the ball as much as him.


Have you seen this team make shots when they pass the ball? I have plenty of time so therefore it starts with the guys who can create. 

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho

@Winston Hadaway @SheSaidSpikeWho He definitely is more creative and some of that has to do with his ability to hit tough shots. I wouldn't quite call it "poetry in motion" though lol only because that's how I felt when watching Kobe in his prime. 


We all wish him the best of luck. We need him playing like last season. I'm just commenting on his handles which I think are decent rather than great. I think when focused he is a dynamic player. 

Winston Hadaway
Winston Hadaway

@SheSaidSpikeWho ,I just think JR is more creative than the other guards on the team in getting his own shots, and he give his opponent fits with his moves  like poetry in motion...give the man a break now ...I wish him all the luck tonight against the Pacers he needs it!! 

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho

@Winston Hadaway 


I like opinions, Winston. They drive conversations. :-)


I don't think he has good handles. I think he has moves like his step back, for example. I think he is too loose with the ball a lot of the time. When he dribbles too long, something bad is probably going to happen. When the D really pressures him, he is sometimes very quick to pick up his dribble. He is better with one or two dribbles followed by making a play. Anything more than that and he gets himself in trouble. I've seen Shump crossover or go behind his back but that doesn't necessarily equate to having handles. 

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@zdiddy4nyk @VerySilentJay @Knicks_Fanatic To me really, the question is simple: is JR's play right now contributing to team oriented ball? Is his attitude having any effect? 

Are those 12+ pts along with boneheaded plays and bad decision making (which is unfortunately the way he's playing right now) helping the team win?

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho

@zdiddy4nyk @VerySilentJay @Knicks_Fanatic 


I didn't read the article. I rarely do anymore lol. 


JR is more than a shooter. Tim Hardaway, Jr, as of right now, is out there to catch and shoot/finish on the break. He is not given the ball to make plays nor does he bring the ball up the court. Jr is given those responsibilities. I think JR is a good passer and pick and roll player when he's focused. JR is expected to make plays for the team and himself so it is kind of hard to compare him to Hardaway. I do think Woodson would like Shump to become a better playmaker though. 


No doubt, Smith is our most talented SG particularly when he's focused. He's not our most mentally sound one though lol. 

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@zdiddy4nyk @VerySilentJay @Knicks_Fanatic JR's not just a shooter under Woodson's system.

Woodson has him bring the ball up, running a few plays now and then, create for himself, and attack.

Unfortunately, he's done very little of this throughout the season.

Talent wise, there's no doubt he's our best PG, but he's not playing up to that talent and he's not being a pro off the court. Not a good combo for a guy like JR.