averaged a career-high 18.1 points in a reserve role for the Knicks
this season. (Erick W. Rasco/SI)
New York Knicks swingman J.R. Smith has been named Sixth Man of the Year.
Smith, a nine-year veteran, averaged 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 33.5 minutes off the bench, setting a new career-high in points and rebounds. He garnered 72 of 121 first-place votes, finishing ahead of the Clippers' Jamal Crawford, who received 31 first-place votes. Golden State's Jarrett Jack finished third (14 first-place votes), followed by the Thunder's Kevin Martin (2), the Hornet's Ryan Anderson (1), the Nuggets' Andre Miller (0) and the Celtics' Jordan Crawford (1).
His contributions helped lead the Knicks to a 54-28 record and the No. 2 seed in the East. He's the third Knick to win Sixth Man honors, following in the footsteps of John Starks (1996-97) and Anthony Mason ('94-95).
Smith had 15 points, five rebounds and a vicious slam in the Knicks' Game 1 victory over the Celtics Saturday afternoon.
"I just wanted to show everybody that I could be a team guy and it's all about the team,'' Smith said at a news conference for the award Monday afternoon.
Rob Mahoney made the case for Smith as Sixth Man earlier this month:
And this year, I’m casting that ballot in favor of one Earl Joseph Smith III, that ridiculous and gutsy gunner known far better as J.R.
I see six first-tier options in addition to New York’s Smith: the Clippers’ Jamal Crawford, Golden State’s Jarrett Jack, New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Martin, San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili and Utah’s Gordon Hayward. Some are more productive than Smith, some more efficient, and one could argue that some play a bigger role. But Smith has found a relative sweet spot in terms of the function he serves with the Knicks and the productive way he goes about serving it, and in the process has proved to be this season’s most essential sub.
Not only is he [Smith] infinitely willing to hunt down and hoist up difficult shots with the clock winding down, but Smith also has amazing range, good handle and a creative flair. He can make something happen when the ball swings his way, and lately he’s been particularly adamant about driving to the hoop whenever possible.
Other players who received a vote: J.J. Redick
, Vince Carter
, Gordon Hayward, Luke Babbitt
, Shane Battier
, Manu Ginobili, Ramon Sessions
and Nate Robinson