New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith has curtailed his nightlife scene, which has led to one of his best starts of his nine-year NBA career.
Smith said on Thursday the cutback in his nightlife is one of the reasons why his season has been so successful thus far.
“I’m not going to lie. The New York City nightlife pretty much got to me,” Smith said after the Knicks’ morning shootaround in San Antonio. “I was going out pretty much every other night and not focused on the task at hand.”
Smith has added a more disciplined approach to his regiment and that showed Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs. Coming into the game he was averaging 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals through five games.
Smith had 17 points and five rebounds in the Knicks’ 104-100 victory over Spurs, which propelled the Knicks to a 6-0 record for season and leaving them as the only undefeated team left in the NBA.
Smith has always been a threat from the three-point line, but this season has made 72 percent of his three-pointers (13 of 18) and is averaging an astonishing one turnover in 33 minutes a night.
The season is still young, but in Smith’s first year as a Knick in 2011-12, he scored 12.5 points on 40 percent shooting in 35 games. Smith had a shorter season due to contract obligations in China during the NBA Lockout.
The refocusing of Smith’s game and his professionalism has been noticed by several of his teammates.
“He’s so locked in and focused this year,” Tyson Chandler said recently. “He’s a different player. He’s really matured and he’s really buying into what coach is preaching, and it’s been a big help.”
Smith bought into Knicks coach Mike Woodson philosophy, but was highly disappointed when Woodson did not insert him into the starting line-up after all his hard work over the summer. Instead, he was designated as the team’s sixth man.
The decision did not sit well at all with Smith, but after speaking with veteran Knick teammates he decided to accept his role.
Smith gave credit to the Knicks coaching staff for helping him change his approach coming into this season. Woodson told reporters in San Antonio that Smith has been more professional this season.
“Being around the coaching staff, they’re very professional,” Smith told reporters in San Antonio. “They’ve been on me for being professional. They’ve been on me about being professional since day one I got here.”
In past years Smith admitted that he would arrive to the gym with “negative energy” and not want to be there. He would be the gym clown, joking around and goofing off. But now he hopes to be the gym role model.
“This year it’s been more serious,” Smith said. “I understand every road trip we take is a work trip, not just a play trip. You come and work hard. If I work hard, maybe then next guy will see me work hard.”