On July 1st it was finally confirmed JR Smith has joined the Los Angeles Lakers for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season. It is unclear how much of a role JR will play for the Lakers when basketball returns, but it certainly provides additional depth and experience to their backcourt.
The move transpired after Avery Bradley confirmed he would not take part in the NBA restart in Orlando due to his son’s respiratory illness.
JR Smith is most likely known for turning into a meme after grabbing George Hill’s missed free throw and proceeding to run the clock down with the scores tied. This would prove costly as the Cavs would lose in overtime and would ultimately be swept by the Warriors.
How will JR help the Lakers?
JR Smith from the outside is a like for like replacement for Avery Bradley. With multiple championship runs alongside LeBron at the Cavaliers, JR comes to the Lakers with a wealth of post-season experience.
As JR played with LeBron for over four seasons in Cleveland, he will be expected to have a clear understanding of the Lakers system. His experience playing with LeBron will certainly be beneficial to the Lakers and should see him seamlessly slot into their line-up.
Alongside his experience, JR is a proven perimeter shooter. For his career, he has averaged around 37% from beyond the arc. When taking a deeper look at JR’s shooting statistics he appears to increase his production in the postseason. His 3-point shooting percentage, when playing alongside LeBron creeps above 40%. This slight increase from beyond the 3-point line will certainly help space the floor for the Lakers and open up lanes for AD and LeBron.
Could JR Smith be a liability?
Replacing Avery Bradley on such short notice was always going to be a difficult task for the Lakers, especially on the defensive end of the court. JR can certainly help disrupt defensively but not to the same level which Avery Bradley was able to contribute, meaning the Lakers will certainly be hoping for an improvement on the offence to help balance their defensive loss.
There will no doubt be some rustiness to shake off as JR has not played in the NBA since November 2018. But as a seasoned professional who spent most of his career in a rotational role, it should not take long for him to find his feet. The first eight “seeding” games will give us a much better idea of what kind of shape he is in and how much he will be called upon during the Lakers playoff run.