JR Smith’s Shot at Redemption Begins With Lakers


If I asked you to tell me the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the name “JR Smith,” what would your answer be?

It has to be one of two things: one, the iconic picture of Smith and a frustrated LeBron James at the end of regulation in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, or two, Hennessy. Am I right?

Haunted History

Social media engraved these thoughts of Smith into our minds after he infamously failed to get a shot up against the Golden State Warriors in said Game 1. His postgame comments didn’t really help his case, either.

“I knew we were tied,” Smith said. “I thought we were going to call timeout.”

And while the past isn’t yet forgotten, the 34-year-old NBA veteran has a chance to redeem himself with the Los Angeles Lakers, as he’s set to join them in Orlando for the remainder of the season, filling the roster spot of Avery Bradley who decided to sit out due to personal reasons, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Not only is it an opportunity for Smith to right his wrongs, but for the New Jersey native, it’s a chance to win another ring alongside LeBron.

Smith, entering what will be his 16th NBA campaign, found basketball glory during the 2015-16 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who overcame a 3-1 Finals deficit to the Warriors and won it all. The starting shooting guard averaged 10.6 ppg on 36 percent three-point shooting in that seven-game series and had an emotional postgame press conference following the final buzzer.

Surely a touching moment, and when the season resumes July 30, ‘JR Swish,’ as he’s been nicknamed, will get perhaps some of the most open looks from distance he’s ever seen — the benefit of playing with LeBron and talented big man Anthony Davis.

Tight Rotation to Start?

Minutes might be tough to come by early on, however, as the Lakers roster features guys like Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and the newly acquired Dion Waiters, who has yet to suit up for LA. But when Smith’s number is called upon, he’ll be asked to do two simple things: shoot and play defense.

A prototypical three-and-D player, the 6-foot-6 Smith has the size to shoot over small guards and even the outstretched hands of bigs scrambling to contest outside jumpers. But more importantly, he has the length to defend anyone along the perimeter and the strength to bang with some guys in the post.

Now, this is not to say Smith is an all-league defender, but I do think he’s been a bit underrated and overlooked as a guy who can guard multiple positions, and he has some surprisingly quick feet at times.

And though the former Sixth Man of the Year hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2018-19 season — a minor 11 games — he has been in the gym prepping for a return and has plenty of positive, memorable moments throughout his career.

Hopefully for LeBron, the Lakers, their fans and especially for Smith, a shot at redemption will eliminate our current perception of the sharpshooting wing, and if all goes well, Smith can pour up the Henny in celebration with his teammates.

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About Sandeep Chandok

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