Smith was the first of the bunch to make his debut with the Cavs on Wednesday night. Smith has a reputation as a volatile player, capable of scoring in heaps or killing an offence with bad shot selection and continual misses.
That volatility, combined with his outgoing personality, made him something of a cult hero in New York.
Before his Cleveland debut, Smith was asked how he plans to fit into the Cavs’ offence on the fly. Smith responded with a fantastic quote that’s right in line with his reputation:
“Worse come to worse … my motto is, ‘When in doubt, shoot the ball.’ So when in doubt, I’m going to shoot it and hopefully that don’t catch nobody off guard.”
Smith then went out and had a less-than-ideal first game in the Cavs’ loss to the Rockets. In nearly 18 minutes off the bench, Smith went 0-5 from the field, missing all four of his three-point attempts.
That will happen: a combination of nerves playing for a new team, and unfamiliarity with the offence can cause a player to have a rough start.
The frustrating thing about Smith is that for his shooting skills and otherworldly athleticism, he takes some awful shots, like this isolation, one-legged fadeaway from 20 feet out (granted, the shot clock was running down):
The Cavaliers are well aware of this trait. GM David Griffin said of Smith, “Does he take too many shots sometimes in the wrong places? Absolutely. A lot of players do that and have done that. But J.R. comes to battle. He competes on a consistent basis and so that was something that mattered to us.”
When the Cavaliers are fully healthy with LeBron James back in the mix, Smith could still be an effective weapon off the bench in a limited role. For the Cavs, that will mean letting him shoot, but hopefully in better spots in a more organised manner.
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