New York Knicks: J.R. Smith Admits Playing “Team-First” Is Tough


Oct 8, 2014; Hartford, CT, USA; New York Knicks head coach

Derek Fisher

(right) talks with guard

J.R. Smith

(8) during a break in the action against the Boston Celtics in the second half at XL Center. The Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 106-86. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith admits that he’s had trouble adjusting to a team-first philosophy

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J.R. Smith‘s biggest adjustment to the overhauled New York Knicks philosophy this offseason hasn’t been Phil Jackson‘s implementation of the Triangle offense. It’s been first-year head coach Derek Fisher‘s team-first mantra.

After years in the NBA as being a team’s streaky and high volume shooter, Smith admits that he’s finding trouble under a team-first mentality. Even more so than Jackson’s Triangle offense.

"[via J.R. Smith: Team-first notion is tough — ESPN New York]“Yeah, absolutely,” Smith said when asked if he has had to make a conscious effort to play differently. “I mean, believe it or not, being the type of player I’ve been, it’s a struggle. I’m not going to lie.“Trying to think about the rest of the team over myself or my scoring is something that I never really had to do before,” Smith continued. “I’ve always been in a situation to score, [now I’m] in position to take my time and let the game come and let my teammates succeed more than myself, I think that’s the ultimate win.”"

And over the course of his career, it could be argued that Smith’s selfish mentality — if that’s what it even is — has limited his potential. Jackson believes it could do the same this season with the Knicks.

"“J.R. Smith is easily the best athlete on the team,” Jackson said. “But J.R. has to learn the difference between a good shot and a bad shot. He has to trust that the triangle will create good shots and to avoid searching for his own shot.“His defense also needs work because he tends to be a ball-watcher, and he’s late in chasing his man around screens when he should be tailgating him,” Jackson added. “Defense is the key to any winning team, so Smith has to really work hard on his deficiencies in training camp.”"

Smith is arguably the second best player on the New York Knicks. If he can buy into the new philosophy that is finding its way with the Knicks, this team can be that much better. However, if Smith can never find his way with this team, the Knicks will continue to be average and it will limit this team’s potential.

Apart from Carmelo Anthony, Smith is probably the second most important player on this team. With the unknown of Amar’e Stoudemire, this is what the New York Knicks have come to.

Melo and Smith.

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