J.R. Smith has been a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers for almost three weeks now, and we are finally beginning to see how he fits with the rest of the team. After a less than promising first game with the Cavs, Smith seems to have found his rhythm, with three 20+ point games since his arrival. He has not been on the team for long, but he has given the Cavs something we needed.
When the three team trade between the Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the New York Knicks went down, we were all very skeptical about having J.R. Smith on our team. Most of us were excited about Iman Shumpert’s arrival, but we didn’t necessarily feel the same about Smith. We knew that Dion Waiters was a headache to deal with, but we thought Smith would be a migrane.
In his first game with us, Smith only attempted 5 shots and did not make a single one. The fact that Smith had zero points with us in his first outing gave us even more reasons to worry, but he calmed us down quickly. Smith exploded for 27 points against the Golden State Warriors on national television in his second game with the Cavs. The Wine & Gold still lost, but his performance gave us a reason to think positively.
Since Smith’s subpar first game, he has been nothing but good for Cleveland. He is averaging 17.2 PPG in the last five games for the Cavs, four of which have been wins. He is also shooting a solid 46% from the floor in those five contests, which is up 6% from his season average. Smith, like Waiters, is a streaky shooter, but we also know that this J.R. Smith is the same J.R. Smith that averaged 18.1 PPG in the 2012/2013 season, and won the Sixth Man of the Year Award while he was at it.
The Cavs were in need of a boost off the bench, and Dion Waiters did not seem like the type of player who would be able to do that for us. We knew Waiters was not happy with his role in the team, but he simply did not fit into the starting lineup with his lackluster defense. J.R. Smith seems to be the player who can give us what we need off the bench. He has been used as a starter for the majority of his time spent here, but we expect him to slide into his 6th man role once Iman Shumpert returns from injury. With his scoring mentality, he can be the bench scorer we’ve needed for a long time.
Overall, we can only hope that J.R. Smith continues playing well and that the Cavs continue winning. When Shumpert returns and Smith likely goes into his desired 6th man role, the Cleveland Cavaliers will not be an easy team to beat.