2010-11 Game 78: Denver Nuggets 104, Dallas Mavericks 96

One day after being benched for the entire fourth quarter in a close game, JR Smith was given a second chance by head coach George Karl and sent a message through his effort on the court. That message: If you want to win close games, you better let me play.

JR single-handedly won us the contest tonight, scoring a game-high 23 points on 9-14 from the field, seven of which came in the last two-and-a-half minutes of playing time. At the 2:36 mark of the fourth quarter and things all tied up, JR made an extremely clutch driving lay-up that gave the Nuggets a two-point lead. Then, 33 seconds later with the clock running out and his teammates looking petrified to shoot, JR again took it upon himself to nail a 23-foot jump-shot. Kenyon Martin made a lay-in to give the Nuggets a comforting six-point lead with 1:38 to go, but it was JR who sealed the deal with a 3-pointer a little over a minute later.

After the game when asked about the inexplicably low amount of playing time he received Tuesday compared with what he saw Wednesday night, JR said he took it personal. Good for him.

We all know JR and Karl don’t have the best relationship, but at this juncture in time I’m beginning to get a little worried. JR is a free-agent after this season and we all know there will be plenty of teams lining up for his services. The problem for us is that nearly all of those teams will be offering JR a a hefty contract, as well as a starting job , which he won’t get here if he re-signs. When you pile this on top of his already dicey relationship with Karl it seems hard to imagine JR remaining in a Nuggets uniform for much longer. Of course, we don’t know for sure if this will be the case — JR has stated many times before how much he loves Denver and want to continue his career with the Nuggets — but it does appear likely.

“Why I am telling you this right now,” you might ask. Well, because I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I like winning basketball games, and as evident by tonight’s win over the Mavericks, JR helps us accomplish this goal. The days of the young loose-cannon who got in fights, disrespected opponents and had no limit to the amount of terrible shots he took are so far in the rear view mirror they’re completely out of sight. Unfortunate, George Karl seems to be the only one trying to revive those distant memories, and it’s consistently backfiring in the form of putting the team in danger of losing games.

You see, Karl treats JR like no other player on the team. He’s nipped at his leash for so many years, that it’s gotten to the point where he’s nearly choking the man. Some might argue that you have to take this approach when dealing with JR, but I have seen no evidence to support this theory in quite some time. I ask you this: When was the last time JR took a bad shot? Go ahead. Take your time. Sift through all those wild JR moments you have tagged in your brain and let me know when you get there.

….Waiting….

….Still waiting….

Ok, you know what, stop. Now try this. Think of the most recent memory you have of Gallinari or Chandler or K-Mart or Al or even Ty Lawson taking a bad shot. You know what’s funny? I can think of a bad shot by each of those guys tonight that was just plain awful, yet you didn’t see any of them getting pulled and unjustifiably benched the rest of the game, did you? Absolutely not, because they don’t get the same treatment JR does from Karl. JR takes two bad shots, makes a careless pass here and there and he’s riding pine for the rest of the game; but Gallo can flop like a fish out of water until he fumbles the ball out of bounds in a pathetic attempt to draw contact and somehow that’s honorable or deserving of different a kind of standard? Hell, Gallo’s been here for little over a month and he already supplanted JR in minutes and the closing position at small forward, until tonight of course.

The double-standard Karl holds JR to is not only wrong, but it’s costing us games. (Yes, I just said that.) I know JR wasn’t playing the best Tuesday against the Thunder, but if you can honestly sit here and tell me he wouldn’t have made an impact on his home-floor in the fourth quarter of a tight game then I just can’t take you seriously as a Nuggets fan. He could have made a difference in that game and everybody at the arena knew it. That’s why they were chanting his name throughout the rafters in the fourth quarter. That crowd, although slow at first, was ready to erupt at any moment in time and JR is the only one who could have done it to the extent we needed to win the game. But, we lost and tonight JR showed us just how bad of a decision that was to limit his playing time so drastically. The funny thing is, it was JR who saved Karl’s rear-end tonight as we wouldn’t have even been in the predicament we were in had he not stubbornly refused to call a time-out when the Mavs went on a 15-2 run in the third quarter.

I’m going to end this diatribe because it’s gone on long enough, just like the unfair treatment of JR that Karl continues to impose. It needs to end. JR is a great basketball player and perhaps the very best on our team. There’s no reason to proceed with this nonsense, especially as the playoffs draw near. Playing some kind of childish game with with JR is not going to get us anywhere, and it’s not going to make him any better of a basketball player. Sure, get on him when he does something bad, but get on everyone else when they do something bad too!!! I don’t mind benching guys for doing stupid stuff, but you need to hold everyone to that standard if that’s how you want to do things!

(Ok, sorry about that. I’ve had that frustration built up for a while and I figured there was no better time to release it than after this game.)

That’s pretty much it for tonight guys. That rant took quite a while, so I hope you get something out of it. Kind of a different type of re-cap but sometimes the traditional stuff gets old, ya know? I guess I was just so enthused by the performance I saw from JR tonight that I just couldn’t help myself. Here is the box-score in case you want to check out some individual performances. Also, please leave any comments regarding the game — other than JR — below, as there was some notable events that took place and I know you guys are always great about bringing up important points. But if you’d like to comment on the JR/Karl relationship and how it affects the team that would be welcome as well. Pretty much whatever.

Next up is Oklahoma City on Friday. The Thunder clinched the division tonight so congrats to them, but I ask you this fellow members of Roundball: What would you rather have, a division title or series win in the playoffs? I have a feeling if the Thunder face us in the first round they likely won’t get both.

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.

Latest posts by Kalen Deremo (see all)

  • DH

    We might want to rest Nene, JR, Ty, and Raymond for the next game. OKC has a shot at catching Dallas, which would allow us to play the Mavs instead of the Thunder in the first round. I’m half-kidding. I think we have a good shot against either team.

  • Cider

    I’d really like to see Oklahoma in the third seed only so that the only time one of the two teams I’d most like to see win would go against each other would be in the conference finals. Not sure about “throwing” any games purposefully, though.

  • Erik

    thank you for commenting on the double standard with JR. JR deserves some respect with his effort on the defensive end and improvement with assists and shot selection. Karl need to move forward because I feel JR has. Plus JR’s ability to generate energy through his rabid scoring is unparalleled, you have to love it.

  • Evan

    wow you are dead on about JR. he’s been doing it all lately and playing smart basketball. plus he’s easily the fan favorite. we need him. i really hope GK realizes how valuable he is to this team and treats him as such.

    as far as the game tonight, it was a good rebound win. hopefully we can make a statement on friday to OKC.

    as far as the playoffs go, bring on dallas, okc, or whoever. we’re ready and hungry to keep proving everyone wrong.

  • Monimo

    Hello, I always read you’re article with great interest, but this time I mostly disagree. I guess Karl likes JR more than you think. But he must be convinced that the “immature” JR needs this hard treatment. The way Karl is using JR could be the most effectif for the Nuggets. He comes out of the bench, has to prove his value and is able to play intense basket ball from the first instant he is on the floor. Karl must be doubtful about the possibility that JR could play this way for 30 minutes per game. And I think you’re comment about Gallo is somehow unfair. In the last 4-5 games I didn’t see him floping (perhaps he’s reading you’re articles :). Even if he’s not very brillant at the moment, he continues to have effectif games, taking few shots, making points and playing team basket ball.

    • Pietro

      +1 on the comment above, i don’t understand all the “hate” for Danilo’s game either

      • Kalen

        Just to clarify Pietro, I don’t “hate” anything about Danilo’s game. Even the flopping I can tolerate because at least he’s trying to help us win games. I really like Danilo and am extremely excited about the prospect of having him on the Nuggets for a long time. I feel any avid Nugget fan would probably feel the same way. I’m just not a big fan of flopping in general, that’s all. I think it’s one of the few things in today’s game that’s really counterproductive. I’d love to see the NBA install some sort of rule to prevent this from happening in the upcoming CBA.

        • Patrick

          Kalen,
          “flopping” is bad, but lets take M. Ginobili, for instance. If u hate flopping, u probably dont like Ginobili but what he does is get himself into position with effort & he lets the official determine if its a foul or not. It is smart basketball & it does take energy to do this. If a player tries this while being lazy about it, they look stupid and dont usually get the call. If the player works hard and doesnt whine every time they dont get the call, they usually get rewarded with calls going their way. The Nuggs net to play smarter & start working the refs & quit whining about non-calls. Getting calls is an “art”. Flopping is lazy & doesnt win ballgames. The Nuggs are guilty of the latter in recent years.

    • magster

      Before the OKC game, JR was practicing 3/4 length court shots which Vic noted on a live remote for Channel 4. Maybe if you screw around in pregame and then play like crap, the tolerance level for bad play is lessened. Maybe if JR was practicing free throws, or his catch and shoot motion at the 3 point line, Karl would have had more patience.

      There were reports of JR screwing around at halftime warmups in the Utah series last year. Maybe his disrespect for the game before the game is what is getting Karl’s attention.

      Metaphor: If you get drunk at the office Christmas party, you better bring your A game to work Monday December 27th because the boss will be watching.

      • magster

        and… (replying to myself) the “respect the game” speech probably was what was lectured given the tameness of JRs dunk on that breakaway in the 2nd quarter last night. I would bet JRs pregame habits had something to do with the OKC benching.

      • CCH

        I personally love how Karl is handling the rotations. He’s broken the restrictions of playing a set rotation, and hes riding the players playing the best on both ends of the court. He pulled Ty very early in that 3rd quarter after he came out passive, so he seems to be holding the standard to all players. Karl impresses me more and more every game.

    • Tim

      I love Gallo and the things he brings to the table for the team. However, if you haven’t seen him flopping in the last 4-5 games, it’s because you haven’t been watching them, not because he hasn’t been doing it.

      • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html SG

        Tim, I could care less about what players do to gain an edge esp MY players.

        Look, the way refs let offensive players get away with ramming into defensive players when the defensive player is often veering away from the O player, is disgusting.

        Should be an O foul or nothing but the league wants more scoring and so favors offensive moves like that. I remember Shaq hitting a stationery D opponent and often getting an “and one.”

        Melo constantly looked to hit a defender then go for shot. Got away with flagrant O fouls 2/3 of the time.

        Now every other O player missiles himself into a helpless D player and we are left with refs having to make judgement calls.

        That’s the worst part. Refs making idiosyncratic calls.

  • Coutta

    I’ve watched our last few games, and I don’t understand why people are bitching about JR.

    Sure – games like today make you wonder what Coach is doing. But there have been other games where Coach has been right to keep him on the bench.

    JR is an incredible talent, but I think we just need to accept the fact that JR doesn’t have the credits “in the bank”like some of the other guys on our team. K-Mart gets away with his crappy offensive game, simply because his D is incredible.

    I think JR is an amazing talent (I even have his jersey, so don’t call me a hater), but sometimes he’s not the best option to have on the court in the clutch.

    Anyway – enjoy Nuggets Nation. We’re playing awesome ball right now, and are going to make some noise in the playoffs.

    Cheers,

    Coutta

    • djyoung71

      +1 on this comment..

      Gottta remember we are a deep, deep team right now, so when JR plays bad he is not going to play. In the early 4th Q of the OKC game I seem to remember Big Al – Ty – Ray – Chandler – JR lineup basically costing us the game. And JR had some really bad plays. I mean he let Maynor and Harden go off in his grill. JR play some D!

      So blame GK, blame the players, take a shower and get over it. Get to play OKC on Friday.

      And it will be interesting to see what happens in OKC, cause I think JR will get plenty of PT in that game.

  • Ernie

    Kalen,

    JR is in the final year of his contract. There are a million examples of players acting coachable and playing harder in such a situation, then reversing back to less coachable and less hustle once they sign for 3 or more years and get paid. Why would this situation be any different? As opposed to Afflalo who has been a hard worker and gotten better each year he has been in the league.

    • Kalen

      Good point Ernie. I guess the optimist in me wants to believe JR is finally turning the corner — and I’ve had no reason to believe he hasn’t this season — but you’re right in bringing up the contract year performance. Maybe that does have something to do with it, but we shouldn’t use that pure possibility as an excuse. On the other hand, what if he is finally starting to mature? I don’t think we should penalize him for past behavior, that’s all.

  • jmac

    i think coach is taking the long view on this one. the thinking out there is that if all the guys know they have to continue to play hard and smart or minutes will be cut, especially end of game minutes (jr’s bread and butter and h2o). we saw it with Al going off in the spurs game, same with felton, bird, martin… forbes, even, sorta. to me, that is encouraging, because it means we will still play 10 deep in the playoff when everyone else is tightening up to 7-8. we would still be playing nugget ball and not the common way the nba is played with superstars now.

    the last time i remember the bonehead jr we were in the middle of that stretch beating everybody by 20-40 points and jr was jacking up 40 ft threes 5 seconds into the shot clock late in the game. i agree that player hasn’t been seen for 7-10 games now. but still, gotta think playoffs and i think we need to be coached differently. playing time is the only bone.

    but still, last night, i totally agree — why the f did coach not call a timeout anywhere during either of the 3rd or 4th quarter stretches when the mavs hit basically every single shot? crazy stupid shots, with barea running all over the place like a pinball, and when they did miss they got like 5 offensive rebounds in a row. that’s kinda the point of timeouts and trying to kill momentum…i dunno, whatever. it’s cool we are winning tougher road games we never use to win.

  • DH

    On JR, I’ll say a couple of things. First, I’m not at practice with him, so I don’t know everything that Karl sees. I’m sure that Karl has some reasons for how he treats JR that we fans don’t know about.

    With that said, it still seems like Karl might be going too far. If he’s that bad (off the court and in practice), don’t play him at all. If he’s not that bad, treat him like anyone else. In other words, if you’re going to play him at all, play him based on his performance in the game like you do with every other player. And I will agree with Kalen that it certainly doesn’t seem like that’s what happens with JR most of the time.

    Yesterday, I made a comment about why I think the Nuggets don’t need a so-called “closer”. As part of that comment, I wrote that JR is someone who can create his own shot (while admitting that there might be times that the shot would be questionable at best). But I erased that sentence before posting because it occurred to me that it didn’t matter, because Karl won’t play JR in crunch time. I understand Karl’s fear of JR making a bad play down the stretch. But there have been games where we absolutely had to have a 3-pointer or we lose, and JR was sitting on the bench. And that just doesn’t make sense to me.

    I don’t want to come off as a JR apologist. JR does some head-scratching things on the court, and not just on the offensive end. In fact, he makes more mistakes on the defensive end. But he also does a lot more than make shots, including rebounding very well for his position, getting steals, making hustle plays, and actually playing very good one-on-one defense in many cases. And I just don’t see his mistakes versus good plays being judged by Karl the same way other players are judged.

    • Kalen

      You and me are on the same page DH. I too don’t want to come off as a JR apologist but I fear after writing this I probably will.

      I totally agree with your second paragraph. If JR really is THAT bad, then he doesn’t deserve to play anyways, and I doubt that’s the case.

      If you think he’s earned playing time like everyone else, then he needs to be judged strictly on performance at that point, and not off-the-court issues.

  • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html SG

    Uh, I didnt realize that JR’s agent wrote articles for this site.

    Love the site, love JR but, really, JR is a GREAT(?) player? In the NBA?

    Well then Nugs have 10 GREAT players and really there is no reason to go through with the playoffs. Nugs are champs!

    Come on Kalen, you can be a FAN, and fan is short for fanatic, but, really, get a grip here.

    With that said, I also get tired of coaches who seemingly play the role of Freud on unwitting patients and, yes, GK seems to fall into that category.

    And JR is exciting and, when on, an absolute beast. But that’s when on. Then there are other times.

    • Kalen

      You really put things into perspective there SG. “Great” admittedly is the wrong word. I probably let my infatuation at the moment of writing this article…errr, rant… get in the way of me seeing that. And just for the record, I’m Ty’s agent, not JR’s. :)

      • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html SG

        Good comeback K

  • CCH

    Not to mention Karl gave JR a lot of praise in the post game interview.

  • Frontrange

    At the end of the quarter last night JR threw a no-look (behind the back?) to Harrington that ended with a rushed three which left Harrington looking at him strangely.

    I always though Melo and Billups took more (or at least as many) bad shots as JR and that his leash was unfairly short but in the new Nuggets, I think the all the players end up on the short end at times. In the King’s game last week Chandler only got 18 minutes, Ty got stuck on the bench in the Spurs game. JR has been on the short end more than most, but Karl is still clearly struggling with how to play everyone – we have heard Felton and Harrinton complain – and I am sure Bird, Forbes and Mozgod want more PT as well.

    It just going to get a lot worse when AAA comes back.

    • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html SG

      Geez Frontrange

      That sure is a thoughtful comment

      Do you have a website?

      • Frontrange

        If only . . but it would probably be investment analysis before I have time to do the sports stuff.

    • Kalen

      About that pass, I actually saw nothing wrong with it. Harrington was more open than JR and should have been ready to shoot knowing that the clock was running down and he was within close proximity to JR. Obviously I would have preferred a regular pass as apposed to a behind-the-back, but it still made it to Al’s hands fairly on target.

  • Warner

    Kalen,

    I mostly agree with your article. I do think JR needs to be watched like a hawk but Karl needs to figure out his in game coaching strategy and now. I personally believe Karl did the Nuggets a major disservice by having Harrington and Chandler close out the 3rd quarter at center and pf when the Thunder went on a 14-0 run. Karl had that blank look on his face like there’s nothing he can do about it when a simple timeout would do the trick. I’ve never seen a coach allow leads to evaporate away without trying to interject like Karl does. He made an attempt to do the same thing last night when the Mavs went on a 15-2 run before Karl FINALLY called a timeout. This team is young, explosive, and Karl really needs to wake up during games. I’ve always been a major fan of his talent development abilities but his in game coaching abilities seem to have vanished. Give JR a little more freedom but not full reign of the team

    • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html SG

      Look, I’ve tried being OK with Al H but frankly he needs to come in on emergency basis need only

      He has good skills and good physical ability but is totally clueless about HOW to play

  • http://ESPN Mirage Hunter

    We need the Bigs back, that’s all I can say. Yes, we won yesterday, but we should have put away a short-handed Mavericks a lot more easily and early. We are getting beaten off the boards again and that stat out of all is the killer. We need Bird & Moz back, not neccessarily right now, but surely for the tournament. Bird is awesome when he comes in those spurts from the bench, but Moz might have a higher ceiling and might turn out to be a heck of a Big in the long term playing starter minutes, but we needed to get his feet wet prior to next week. Heck, just get them in there soon.

  • Warner

    P.S.

    The last time I recall an “old-school jr smith I’m going to single handedly lose this game for us tonight” moment was in the Portland game a few weeks back when JR jacked up a bad 3, gave up a pathetic and-1 on the ensuing fast break, then jacked up another terrible 3 with 20 secs remaining on shot clock… He’s improved a lot seemingly since the trade. Maybe cause big bad melo is gone who’s a terrible influence anyway

  • Shakira

    WTF kind of post game analysis was that? Why does JR have a short leash? Did you just become a Nuggets fan in the last two months… good grief.

    • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html SG

      Hey Shakira, where do you get off saying in 2 lines what took me 9 lines to say. Are you one of those take-out-the-clutter-from-your-lives professionals? Well done.

    • Kalen

      Haha, thanks for the input Shakira. I probably should have classified this one as a “rant” instead of a “recap.” Don’t plan on these types of things in the future, it was kind of a one-time deal. More actual “analysis” to come!

      • magster

        Rant away! Recaps can get old.

        • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html SG

          Yeah that’s what AP is for

  • Cory Wansle

    Why are nuggets fans(some) not understanding what is being said. I have seen JR and his bad side yes he has had bad games, but that doesn’t denote the fact he has been playing well. Karl does, i think, admire JR’s game but knows where this can lead to. I think Karl needs to just put JR out there in the situation and let things happen. Not degrading Karl’s skills though his coaching is impeccable. JR has matured and he is ready.

  • Eric Sandage

    Amen, brother, amen. It’s about time somebody finally said it out loud. JR is, was and always will be the kind of guy that rubs marginal fans the wrong way.

    I’ve often heard about all these titanic mistakes that JR makes that are just so “destructive” and “That’s why George Karl can’t play him”, like if JR played 40 minutes a guy who doesn’t turn the ball over very much and has really good shooting percentage would suddenly go 0-30 with 15 turnovers, the mountains would fall from the Rockies and the Nuggets would move to the Ukraine.

    But the best point is the double standard with which Karl, the Denver media and really every mainstream fan I know has applied to JR that they don’t apply to say….Chauncey or Melo or Marcus Camby when he was here or really anyone else. And when you’re talking about a player who is truly the most electric physical talent we’ve had, it has always been something that rubbed me wrong.

    • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html SG

      Actually JR rubs marginal fans the wrong way and the right way. He also rubs astute fans the right way and the wrong way.

      I just think JR rubs the fans

  • Charlie

    Eh, I do see some of the double standard being talked about here. However, JR has earned that himself.

    Unfortunately I have to vehemntly disagree with the assesment of the OKC game. Did you guys not see that when JR came in during the 3rd quarter the Nuggets held a 3 point lead and were poised to take control of the game? His chucking and nonchalant effort on defense pretty much immediately surrendered control of the game back to OKC and what’s worse is JR seemed to not care. He absolutely deserved to be benched against OKC when he was, because he was hurting the team and in the midt of another one his episodes – or meltdowns, whatever you want to call it.

    I do see a double standard when Harrington has the leash he does with George Karl. That part is inexcusable. I also take issue with JR getting a reduced role with Arron Afflalo out as JR shoudl be in line to get starters minutes.

    However as we’ve seen time and time again what exactly suggests JR is worthy of all that leeway in big time statement games? More often than not he has blown it. Do we not remember how he no-showed throughout all but one of the games against the Jazz in the playoffs last year?

    Without Arron Afflalo, we need JR a lot more than normal and we need him to play big. Does anyone honestly trust him to keep it together and not melt down in the biggest games of the year? I’ve watched JR for going on seven years and I sure as hell don’t. People love to get carried away over the big scoring games JR can have while totally ignoring the cost we pay for all that hot shooting. IS he consistently a winner? Does he have the clutch factor and proven track record of performance to be one of the guys you just have to trust and live with his decision making due to how good he is?

    No, he is still a fragile child and while JR helps more than he hurts – he is a guy on the edge of a complete meltdown and mental collapse at all times. All you can do is try to harness the good while balancing it by protecting yourself from the bad. That is a lot harder than people think

    • Kalen

      Wow Charlie, we do disagree vehemently about this issue. I don’t know if saying JR is a “fragile child…on the edge of a complete meltdown and mental collapse” is exactly accurate. He has his issues at times, which cause him to struggle, but not once have I ever felt he was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. That’s a bit of a stretch.

      JR proved last night he should be in during the end of games and he’s been proving it all season. Even in OKC when he got benched Maynor was still scoring on Ty and Felton, dude was having the game of his life.

      Bringing up the Jazz series seems kind of irrelevant. Karl was gone, AD was hypnotizing the team with some sort of voodoo crap-magic that made us play horrible for the entire last part of the season, K-Mart went down, the Johan “The French Tickler” Petro was logging serious minutes, etc., etc., etc. What about Nene in that series? Dude averaged 11 points and less than 6 boards per game! Where was he? JR didn’t have his best post-season last year, but before than he was great nearly every other time, especially when we went to the WCFs. In fact, I remember during the A.I. days when JR seemed to be the only one caring (and this includes Karl) about actually winning.

      Again, regardless of track-record JR is finally playing good basketball this season and I think it’s ridiculous he’s still getting penalized for his old habits. Go look at the stats, Gallo, Chandler, Nene and Harrington ALL average more turnovers per game than JR does. In fact, the only guy getting significant time who averages less turnovers than JR is Afflalo and he’s one of the most cerebral ball-players in the game right now.

      As far as shots per game go, Chandler, Gallo and Felton shoot more attempts than JR does and other than Chandler both have way worse field goal percentages, but all three have worse field goal percentages since coming over from the trade. JR is shooting .441 which isn’t ideal, but it’s not bad either.

      My whole point about this article and comment is that at this point in time — forget about the past — JR makes no more knuckle-headed plays or bad shots than anybody else on the team, yet he consistently get treated worse. If you weigh out all the positives he brings to the table, his negatives don’t even show up, or what little he does have don’t even show up. His passing is right up there with Felton’s behind Ty’s, his three-point shooting is some of the best in the entire league, his energy is the best from any bench player in the league, and his overall ability to create off the dribble is the best on the team. Plus, his rebounding and defense are both the best they’ve ever been by far, and he ranks second in steals on the entire team behind only Felton. Remember, Nene, Ty, K-Mart — those are all guys who are good at stealing the ball for their positions and yet JR is ahead of them.

      So, positives>>>>>>>>negatives. JR deserves respect, that’s all I’m saying.

  • Princewell Ahaneku

    Let’s just get the absolute fact straight, J.R. is on a shorter leash than everyone else on the team. That’s a fact, argue it all you want but the proof is there. I also highly doubt it has anything to do with practice either because a few years ago, if J.R. had a bad practice, you always knew because he never played as much as he usually would. Now, with that said, He did bring this on himself IN YEARS PAST! Listen, November 15, 2010 was the last time that J.R. had a major hiccup. He missed the morning shoot-around. In years past, when he had other hiccups, J.R. would get benched like usual, but he would never own up to his mistake thus he would have a string of bad games due to poor attitude. November was different, he MANNED UP, accepted responsibility for his actions and decided from then on he would change his mindset. Since then, almost 5 months ago, J.R.’s game has been on the upswing with no major on and off-court issues. Here’s my point what J.R. did in years past during games and off-court have already happened and there’s nothing he can do about that. Naturally, he will continue to be judged by those past mistakes BUT, when a person decides to change on their own, without anyone shoving it down their throat, they should be given the opportunity to do so. With the way J.R. has played this season and after the events of November 15, 2010 I do not think it’s fair for fans and Karl to continue to judge him on his past mistakes. They already happened and he’s not making those mistakes now. J.R. is maturing as a player and as a person and it is evident on the court. What I’m trying to say is this, someone lives a life of crime, goes to prison and gets released. Upon release the individual makes the decision to turn their life around. The person is successful in doing so, but the people around this person continue to judge the individual based on their past crimes because and of ignorance or whatever it may be and they fail to realize the steps the individual has made to change their life. This should not be the case. Unless the person reverts back to their old lifestyle, they should be given the proper respect and support for wanting to change for the better and should not be judged by their past actions unless they completely revert back to their old lifestyle. Basically, people should give J.R. a chance to prove himself based upon what he said back in November before they keep his old label on him because for the last 5 months J.R. has been exceptional. I’m not a J.R. apologist either, although I really do like him and want him to succeed. He did bring this on himself and while I’m not making any excuses for him for what he did on and off-court in years past, he does deserve a chance to re-write his career. I just call it how it is.

    P.S. I firmly believe that his performance this season is not just a result of it being a contract year for him. He was in a contract year 3 years ago and from how he was playing then, the next 2 years were improvement from that contract year. I don’t believe in history repeating itself, but I would assume that if he were to sign with the Nuggets for the next few seasons, your not going to see a decline in play for him. He doesn’t come off as that type of player to me because you can usually tell the players that are just interested in the money.

    • Ernie

      Compare JR to Aaron Afflalo (AAA). In the last 3 years AAA has developed a post game, improved his defense and 3 point shot, developed a mid range jumper and never taken a night off. JR has essentially the same game since he got here: the step back jumper, the open 3 and the drive going right. JR has not stopped the heat check 3s, still makes uneccessary fancy plays and until recently has had bad effort nights. AAA wants to get better and you can see it in his improvement, JR is better athletically but hasn’t made the same effort to improve.

      That’s the point of players all of sudden becoming coachable and hustling in the final months of a contract. I don’t think you give him a major contract because “you can usually tell”. You see it in the development the player has and JR hasn’t made the effort to improve.

      • Frontrange

        JR still makes some non-basketball plays but he has improved a ton . . .I am not sure if Karl, JR or Karl’s assistants should get credit but in all sorts of ways you can see the improvement: better defensive rotations, better off ball defense, better rebounding both offesnively and defensively, less forced shots, less quick shots, less turnovers. His turnover rate is at a career low (15% below career average), his rebound rate career high (40% higher), his usage rate at career low (10% below average), his FTA/shot are 15% above career average. Essentially he is doing everything ‘cept shoot the long ball better than anytime in his life.

        Does JR still make bonehead plays? Yes, but now they are the exception rather than the rule.

        • Ernie

          I’m not familiar with most of the stats you provided but rebounding and forced shots are the efforts and coachability I have mentioned usually comes in line with a contract year. You can disagree with that premise if you choose. The better defense is not something that you gave an objective stat with, to me when JR does give an effort he still reaches (fouls) or flops ineffectively (gets there too late and fouls).

          My point is JR has failed to improve his skill set. Developing a left hand for drives and a post game would help. He’s a career 74% FT shooter and he’s shooting 74% this year, given his shooting talent why isn’t that 85% or higher. He’s remained a mediocre one on one defender, with his athleticism he could be dominant. These are all things that players have improved during careers or in the summer and JR hasn’t chosen to make that effort.

          • Frontrange

            You can see JR’s advanced stats here (with definations):

            http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/smithjr01.html

            I like to use the Per 36 min and the advanced sections for stat analysis.

            Clearly we have a difference of opinion. I see improvement over the past four years, you see none (particularly on the defensive side). But I do agree his FT% is mystifying and disappointing. He (and his team) would really benefit if he could raise that to the low to mid 80’s.

            BTW . . here is an interesting JR stat: with 3 seconds or less on the shot clock JR effective FG% is 2% higher (.532 vs .513) than his overall % and along with Lawson is the highest on the team. By comparison Billups % was 15% lower (386 v 536), Melo 5% lower (.432 v .474) . . very unusual to be more effective with no time left on the clock.

  • J Birdman

    All of this JR talk is totally moot! He’s gone guys. He’s going to be paid more or equal to what the nuggets will pay AND that team will give him a fair shake at being a starter or at least paying starter minutes. Karl has never let the water flow under the bridge with JR and the nuggets are going to lose their best athlete, the only player on the team that can create their own shot, their best three point shooter, and steals per minute played leader. It’s a shame for the nuggets but would you stay if you were JR? Hell no! I just hope he goes to the eastern conference so we don’t have to witness he vengance more than a couple times a year. Because when he plays the nuggets next year he’s gonna make rain and he’s ggonna let denever know all about it!

  • Princewell Ahaneku

    Ernie, I never said that J.R. should be offered a big contract because you can usually tell if players are interested in the money. I’m saying I don’t think his play this season is attributed toward him being in a contract year. With the way you claim J.R. has made no improvements in his game, a statement which I half agree with but half disagree with, J.R. would probably be trying to do everything himself. We would be seeing selfish play, errant shots, numerous turnovers, etc. He is playing within the system which is something he wasn’t doing a few years ago. I do agree with you that J.R. needs to work on his free throws, post game and defense. J.R. DOES have a left hand. At the same time J.R. has come a long way from where he was a few years ago in his overall game. AAA is a special player who works hard and is mature for his age. I bet you AAA worked very hard in high school and college to get were he is now. J.R. on the other hand, has always been a terrific athletic specimen. I guarantee he didn’t have to work as hard to get where he is today. My point is that unfortunately many people like J.R. who had it easy, take for granted the hard work and commitment it takes to get better. It looks like J.R. is just starting to figure out what that is. AAA had it figured out a long time ago. Thus, AAA will work to improve before J.R. does. It’s not an excuse for J.R. it’s just the fact, AAA works harder than J.R. and J.R. is starting to work himself. I only wish J.R. had AAA’s work ethic. Can you imagine?