Just like how I predicted, Knicks top reserve J.R. Smith has been named the Sixth Man of the Year by the NBA Monday morning. The eight year veteran had his best statistical season of his career, averaging 18.1 points, coming off the bench in all 80 games that he played in.
Smith has established himself as the number 2 scoring option for the Knicks, behind Carmelo Anthony, and has stepped up to the occasion numerous times. He had 29 games in which he scored at least 20 points, tying him with Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford for the most 20 point games by a reserve. Crawford finished as the runner-up.
Smith becomes the third player in Knicks history to win the NBA’s Sixth Man Award, joining John Starks (1996-97) and Anthony Mason (1994-95).
A late season surge helped Smith capture the award. During the Knicks 13 game winning streak in March and April, Smith averaged 23.3 points per game on 49 percent shooting. In late March, Smith had a stretch of three consecutive 30 point games, something that hasn’t been done by a reserve since Ricky Pierce did it in 1990 with Milwaukee.
Smith signed a two-year contract worth $2.8 million in the offseason. The second year has a player option and Smith is expected to decline it and test free agency.
The Knicks will have Smith’s Early Bird Rights, meaning they can exceed the salary cap to re-sign the shooting guard if he decides to decline the 2013-14 option.