J.R. Smith has been invaluable as sixth man for the New York Knicks. Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

J.R. Smith Has Gone From Disgruntled Star to Invaluable Sixth Man

Back in October, New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith made it clear that he wanted to be a starter this season. Smith wanted to shake the sixth man moniker and prove that he could be a legitimate starter in the NBA. After all, starters get all the playing time, important roles and glory. Right?

Wrong. Smith has been invaluable as the sixth man for the Knicks. Without him, the Knicks would not be sitting on a 5-0 record right now. Smith is averaging 18.2 points and almost 34 minutes per game. Only Carmelo Anthony averages more for the Knicks. If you looked solely at the numbers, you would think that Smith is a starter. He is certainly playing like one.

You have to give some credit to Coach Mike Woodson for putting Smith in the best possible position to succeed. With Anthony dominating the scoring among the starters, there is less of a need for Smith in the first unit. But the Knicks desperately need scoring in the second unit, especially when Anthony is not on the floor. This is where the Knicks need Smith the most. This is where Smith has shined.

Now Smith loves his role as the sixth man. It is still early, but Smith is a strong candidate for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award. And if he keeps playing like this, starters are going to want to be like him.

Edwin Torres was born in New York City. He has been a Knicks fan since the early 1980s. He has visited Madison Square Garden on many occasions to watch the Knicks and his favorite player, Patrick Ewing. For more articles, follow him on Twitter @FlipPoker.

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