The New York Knicks currently have a pretty diverse front-court. If you take into account the big guys alone, they have: Cole Aldrich, Samuel Dalembert, Jason Smith, Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire.
STAT and Bargs are probably going to land the gigs for center and power forward respectively, playing along Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith and Jose Calderon in he 2014-2015 Knicks starting lineup – leaving the Knicks with a secondary decision: What big man will come off the bench first during the season?
Today we talk about Jason Smith, a player whose contract says he will be the go-to-guy for backing up the bigs.
Smith is not a defensive force – he doesn’t protect the rim as efficiently as Dalembert or Aldrich -, he is not a natural rebounder, and on the offensive end he doesn’t have a good post-up game. Despite being 7 foot tall, athleticism is not his strong side. So what makes him worthy of the US$ 3.3 million he got from James Dolan?
His scoring and versatility.
Much like Bargnani, Smith has the ability to step out of the paint and be an offensive threat from the perimeter. Considering the Knicks are going to be playing under the triangle offense, this will be of utmost importance for coach Derek Fisher, who will need to open up the paint and spread the opponent’s defense in order for JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony to beat their man one-on-one and drive to the paint. Also, in an offense where everyone on the floor has to be able to score at any given time, his scoring versatility is going to prove him useful.
His stats are pretty modest – 16.7 MPG, 6.0 PPG, 47.2 FG% and 3.5 RPG in a six-year career-, but as a role player (if used correctly) he can provide valuable minutes off the bench. Well, and despite not being the poster-boy for athleticism, he is a seven footer nevertheless.
Personally, I’d prefer to see Aldrich as the main back-up for the center position, a guy who will bring back the energy and glass cleaning abilities we saw during Tyson Chandler’s tenure with the team. Besides, with Melo, JR and Bargs on the floor, the offense would be pretty well set in terms of perimeter shooting, but who am I to say anything against Fisher and Phil Jackson’s decision – if that’s what they are going to do…