J.R. Smith has done most of his damage in the NBA in a sixth man role. However, this offseason, he’s been in a very public position battle with Iman Shumpert, according to New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson.
Funny thing is that Smith hasn’t even participated in any of his team’s preseason games yet. Right now Smith is still sidelined after undergoing knee surgery this offseason, plus, he is suspended the first five games of the season for breaking multiple violations of the NBA’s drug policy.
Still, Smith believes that he would be best suited as a starter for the Knicks.
This is via Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
“I’ve always wanted to start. Everybody knows that,” Smith said. “I won the Sixth Man [Award] last year, so I felt as though there’s nothing left to prove at the sixth-man spot. But at the same time, if that’s what my team needs me to do, that’s what I’ll do. If Coach wants me to be a sixth man, I’ll be a sixth man. If he wants me to start, I’ll start. That’s up to him.”
Smith ran the practice floor for the first time Tuesday since his surgery in July. He hopes to play in the team’s final preseason game on October 25.
Even with all that, it’s going to be up to Woodson to decide who starts. I think it’s be pretty clear that Shumpert will start the season as the starter and depending on how well Shumpert thrives in that role will ultimately determine if Woodson slips Smith in the lineup or not.
I still think the smart move would be to keep Smith as the sixth man, but that’s just me. Smith won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season while averaging 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.