New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith has reportedly won the Sixth Man of the Year award, according to Howard Beck of the New York Times.
After having a career year, Smith seemed to be the undeniable favorite for the award. He was the Knicks’ second scoring option, averaging 18.1 points off the bench and 5.3 rebounds (career-high) in 33.5 minutes per game.
Smith averaged 23.2 points over his final 22 games of the season to help the Knicks secure the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Most recently, he scored 15 points in 32 minutes during New York’s Game 1 win over the Boston Celtics.
Jarrett Jack was also considered one of the front-runners to win the award. His role off the bench was just as important as Smith’s, but the numbers really don’t lie. Jack averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 assists, while Smith’s numbers were far superior regardless of the fact that he took roughly five more shorts per game than Jack did.
Jack didn’t help his case with a rocky ending to the season. He scored just 10.4 points in 30.4 minutes per game over his final nine outings.
The Warriors weren’t an ideal fit for him individually, which is probably why he will seek a starting gig this offseason. Of course, Golden State would love to retain him, but in reality, he’s a starting point guard and he’ll demand starting point guard money. It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Warriors to put that much money into him when Stephen Curry is their starting point guard. They’d be better off bolstering their front court.
A late season surge would’ve boosted Jack’s chances of winning Sixth Man of the Year honors, but he fell just short of Smith, who made a name for himself on the biggest stage in basketball–Madison Square Garden.