J.R. Smith has, in my opinion, looked especially lost in the Triangle offense during preseason. Everyone's looked a bit lost, but J.R.'s a veteran and a guy whose skills *should* fit very nicely into the system who's been among the worst. It's just preseason, though, and J.R. fully understands his own struggles.
"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."
Smith said Fisher has explained why the team-first mentality that comes with the triangle works.
"He just told me -- look at the rings they have," Smith said. "It's worked. I want one so bad, I'll do whatever it takes. If it takes me sacrificing my scoring, that's what it takes."
Fisher, in that article, speaks some words in support of J.R., and Melo's got his back, too. Via Newsday:
"It's going to work itself out,'' Carmelo Anthony said. "It's easy to feel like you're kind of left out of what's going on, but everybody is going through the same thing. He'll be all right. It's preseason. We need him. He knows we need him. We know we need him. He's a big part of what we're trying to do.''
J.R., for all his foibles, has been a thoughtful, introspective quote-giver in New York, and that's about as self-critical as I've ever seen him. On our podcast yesterday, Jason compared J.R.'s tone to that of a longtime carouser in therapy. That in mind, I hope acknowledgment is an early step to be followed by self-improvement and constant self-inventory.
I really do think J.R. can flourish in the Triangle, but as we all (J.R. included) know, that's going to take some serious unlearning of bad habits. If J.R. obeys the patterns of the offense and resists the temptation to freelance when it's not appropriate, I really think his virtues as a shooter off the catch, pick-and-roll creator, and aggressive wing defender could help the Knicks a ton. People have said stuff like this about J.R. every single year for a decade now, but DAMMIT I'M SAYING IT AGAIN.