Los Angeles Lakers: J.R. Smith makes some noise

Los Angeles Lakers J.R. Smith (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers J.R. Smith (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

J.R. Smith is proving he is still legit and can help the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers might not be in perilous waters, roster-wise, after all. The injury to Rajon Rondo and the decision of Avery Bradley to sit down the rest of the season risked to create damaging holes in Frank Vogel’s rotation, but the depth at the wing and point guard the front office has promptly developed has proved a great cover so far.

Quinn Cook, Alex Caruso and Dion Waiters backed up LeBron James splendidly in the scrimmage games of the Orlando Bubble, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dion Waiters again, and J.R. Smith have stepped up without problems in Bradley’s place.

Particularly Waiters has kept up to the expectations generated when the Lakers signed him in March, despite never suiting up for the purple and gold before because of the shutdown.

J.R. Smith, in the meantime, has been a pleasant surprise. Signed at the last hour precisely to replace Bradley, he has been having some very good games and proved why he will be of help for LA.

The Lakers worked him out in March with Waiters when they needed to sign a bench booster, so they already had an idea of what they were going to add. Furthermore, some videos of him working out during the quarantine showed he was in good shape.

But, honestly, most people did not expect Smith to have the impact he is having right away, joining a new team post-trade deadline, after a year away from the court, with the NBA stormed by COVID-19 and basketball activities resuming in July.

Let’s take a look.

First game: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks

Ok, first time on an NBA court in over a year. Maybe a bit nervous, he did not know if this moment would ever come or if his career was over, some shaking hands are understandable. No one expects an eye-popping performance. Just stay relax, do your job, wait for the game to come to you. If you have the chance then shoot it but do not think too much about it.

1-for-4 from three, 2-for-5 from the field. However, six points in 15 minutes, he moves very well on the floor and looks good defensively. Welcome back to the NBA, J.R.

Second game: Los Angeles Lakers vs Orlando Magic

The first game is in the bag. Not too good not too bad. Now things begin to be serious. But he is not there yet. 1-for-5 from the field, no threes attempted. Yet 4-for-5 from the free-throw line, still good on defense. Hopefully just still rusty, but he can certainly stand on the floor and cover some minutes off the bench for the Lakers.

Third game: Los Angeles Lakers vs Washington Wizards

Here we go, last chance to prove himself before the restart of the season. Most starters are sitting down, big minutes available. And J.R. “Swish” makes his triumphant return to the NBA. Twenty points and 5 rebounds. Six of seven from three. With the superstars out he takes the leadership role and shows the younger teammates how to win games.

Obviously, we expect J.R. to be something between the first and the third game. That way he will be a great weapon, providing, along with Dion Waiters, that scoring punch the Los Angeles Lakers needed off the bench.

He sometimes could be the x-factor, bringing occasionally a great performance that sparks the bench and pushes the team. His championship and playoff experience could prove critical in some moments (hopefully avoiding debacles like game 1 of the 2018 finals).

dark. Next. 3 trends from the scrimmage games

In any case, Smith still belongs to the NBA and his qualities are most useful for a contender. Luckily for the Los Angeles Lakers, no one had considered him valuable anymore and gone that way before them.