J.R. Smith Takes Blame for Knicks’ Struggles (It’s Not His Fault)

By now you may have seen J.R. Smith‘s comments following the Knicks‘ rotten performance last night in Indiana. New York’s offense has been atrocious, and J.R. (7-22 from the field last night) is taking the blame.

From Newsday:

“My frustration level with myself is extremely high. I take the blame for this whole series . . . I haven’t been playing my part. I’ve been letting my teammates down. I’ve been letting my coaches down. It doesn’t feel good.”

He’s right, lingering virus or not, he has not been very good at all in this series. But all his fault? Not even close. Really, what did everyone think was going to happen in this series? When you boil it all down, the Knicks are a team based offensively on Carmelo Anthony ball domination and iso’s, with jump shooters (in theory) around him. When it works, and guys are making shots, the Knicks are tough to beat. That’s exactly what happened during the majority of their season, and they were at their best when Smith was in an extended groove.

But here’s the thing: All jump shooters, even the best of them, can be streaky. J.R.? Super streaky. And even though he’s had a career season, J.R. is one of the most hot/cold shooters in the entire League. That’s fine if there are other great shooters/scorers to pick up the slack when Smith goes cold, but the Knicks don’t have that. Put a struggling Smith, a roster of below-average shooters, and a Carmelo Anthony who is the focus of one of the NBA’s toughest, most ferocious defenses and you are just begging for trouble. Last night in a combined 61 minutes of action, Iman Shumpert, Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin contributed ZERO points. That is trouble.

So while J.R. Smith’s struggles (he hasn’t shot well since the middle of the Celtics series) are a big part of the Knicks’ disarray, it’s hardly his fault. This was a fatally-flawed roster from the jump and now a superior team is exploiting those weaknesses to the fullest.

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