The New York Knicks were an absolute mess this past season. The team won just 37 games and missed the postseason in an abysmal Eastern Conference.
However, that terrible play hasn’t diminished shooting guard J.R. Smith’s confidence about what the Knicks are capable of doing next season.
From Marc Berman of the New York Post:
“Extremely realistic,” the Knicks shooting guard said on “First Take” on Wednesday morning, when asked how realistic it was that the Knicks could win the East. “I’m confident. I don’t play to lose.”
After winning the Sixth Man of the Year award for the 2012-13 season, Smith was a big reason for New York’s downfall in 2013-14..
He finished the season strong and with decent numbers (14.5 PPG, 41.5 FG%), but he shot under 37 percent from the field in each of the first two months of the season, which helped doom the Knicks. Smith entered the year following offseason knee surgery, but was unwilling to blame that for his poor play.
“I was playing like a person who didn’t want to be there, not looking as focused as a person who should be,” he said.
“I’m not going to make any excuses for myself, but knee surgery is a tough thing to come back from,” he said. “I didn’t expect to be [back to] where I was.”
If Smith can get back to his Sixth Man of the Year ways for an entire season, the Knicks are sure to better next season. However, even with the Eastern Conference becoming more wide open with LeBron James heading to Cleveland, it’s extremely unlikely that New York competes for a title berth, given the team did not make major personnel upgrades this offseason.
The worry for Smith, and his teammates, needs to be making the playoffs before considering a championship.