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Point Forward

Court Vision: Can J.R. Smith really jump start the Knicks' offense?

(Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images) The absence of J.R. Smith isn't all that ails New York's offense. (Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

J.R. Smith can be a useful scorer under the right conditions, but Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal reminds us that those conditions might not line up so perfectly with the rotation choices of Knicks head coach Mike Woodson:

Still, it would appear that there's a little more to the team's drought than just Smith's absence. And that's because even once Smith returns, the Knicks still figure to be faced with a multitude of lineup questions. Perhaps chief among them: Does Woodson know the benefit in going with a smaller, dual point-guard lineup, or does he still need to see more from his "big" grouping with newcomer Andrea Bargnani?

The impact of Smith's return could heavily depend on which lineups Woodson uses. Case in point: In 970 minutes last season, the Knicks outscored opponents by 10.3 points per 48 minutes when Smith was playing alongside two point guards, according to NBA.com. But their advantage shrank to just 2.4 points per 48 minutes (in 1,708 minutes of playing time) when Smith was flanked by one point guard or none.

Russell Westbrookwhen asked if he expected any rust in his debut on Sunday: "I expect to win."

• A video look at how the Heat apply pressure on opposing defenses.

• As DeMarcus Cousins' field goal percentage inches toward 50 percent, it's no coincidence that he's taking a smaller cut of his attempts from outside the paint.

• All quantifiable measures are context-dependent, but the first wave of Sport VU rebounding data is particularly so. More broadly: NBA commissioner-to-be Adam Silver expounds on the reasoning for making a small slice of the data public in the first place.

• There are some pretty evident flaws in methodology here, but the underlying question is one worth asking: How do the demographics of NBA players differ from their reputation?

Celtics stats-savvy assistant GM Mike Zarren on Danny Ainge's relationship with numbers (via Paul Flannery):

"I started as an unpaid intern doing only that and now I’m an assistant GM and my office is connected to his, so he must pay some attention to it. Danny is a guy who’s looking for every advantage he can possibly find, and he wants to know that whatever he’s looking at has some good basis. He’ll test it, and he’ll challenge it. If it stands up, then he’s very interested in it. If it doesn’t, he still may be interested in it, but he’ll also be interested in the next thing, whatever that is.

"Advanced stats is a huge category of stuff. There’s some things that he relies very heavily on and some things that he doesn’t rely on as much, probably correctly. He’s pretty sharp. He knows what’s going on."

Pop over for a full-bodied, multi-faceted read from Flannery. The Sunday Shootaround is fun, packed to the brim and sporting a slick new design.

• Charlotte gets a go in small sample size theater, featuring the fun combination of a top-10 mark in free throw attempts and a league-worst ranking in free throw percentage.

Luigi Datome, bathed in white light.

• Last week, Sacramento opted to decline the fourth-year option on Jimmer Fredette, thus ensuring that the gunning guard becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro explained the rationale of that move to James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom:

It was agonizing. I spent the last month, month and a half [deliberating]. And you and I spoke about this, I spent a lot of nights where I actually stayed up looking at this thing. It’s not easy. Look, the thing about it is, we have a lot of evaluation to do -- we do. We have guys that are coming up on extensions and we had the option and everything was kind of coming on this Oct. 31st date, which look, it’s part of the system. But it’s a date that is kind of awkwardly thrust in there and for us, it was even more awkwardly because we just started at the beginning of July. So it was a difficult process for us as a front office and as a management group. At the end of the day, our season begins, we have the ability to sign all of our guys and we continue evaluating.

• "Kendrick Perkins is the wind that haunts the grass." (This piece from Grantland's Brian Phillips is very much related, and brilliant.)

• Dwight Howard's arrival in Houston has corresponded with the Rockets averaging an additional 14 free throw attempts per game, but could such frequent stoppage in play be upsetting the momentum of the offense?

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