J.R. Smith, in 5 years in the NBA, hasn't matured one bit. He's had continuous off the court problems, conflicts with George Karl (and obviously doesn't listen to/respect him) and just cannot manage to string together a consistent effort from night to night. His primadonna act every time he hacks a player on a drive rather than getting into position is beyond tiresome.
His numbers are down across the board this year compared to last season. His eFG% is down to .479, he's shooting just 33% from 3, his rebounds are down, his assists are down, his turnovers are up. His PER is just 13.5, and he commits 3.2 fouls per game on average.
Are J.R.'s "contributions" - like last night's 6 turnover, five foul game on 4 of 12 shooting in 35 minutes - worth his ppg?
Denver and its fans must begin seriously evaluating J.R.'s long term future in Denver while his trade value is still high. In the time that I have watched J.R., I have not seen anything that leads me to believe that he's going to change from a me-first gotta-get-mine I-never-foul type player into a mature athlete that can harness his skill.
Witness the difference between J.R. and Lawson. Lawson, as a rookie, contributes quietly, listens to Karl, doesn't complain about fouls and hustles on both ends of the floor. He plays within the offense and plays defense without fouling. J.R. still whines about every call, doesn't feel like he's contributing unless he's nailing 34 footers, and is by and large still a defensive sieve. Lawson has matured more in 5 months as a player than J.R. has in 5 years.
We also know that Denver badly needs a reliable big man to work alongside Nene to counter the Lakers big lineups of Gasol, Odom, Bynum. And Denver's offense is such that J.R.'s offense can be replaced. For every 40 point game J.R. has, he will follow it up with 2-3 6ppg, 3-6 turnover efforts. As a team that wants to get to the finals, we can't have that out of our sixth man.
Yes, I said it. "Unthinkable!" you might add. But we already have our scoring threats in Melo, Billups and Nene. Adding a big that would open up the game - especially for Nene - would more than offset J.R.'s inconsistent at best offense. Our sixth man should be consistent, even if he's not lighting up the scoreboard or setting records, and I think the Nuggets would be far better served by adding a player that will add that level of consistency.
Why Denver does it: Brendan Haywood is a legit 7 foot, 263lb C and is averaging 10 rebounds to go along with 9 points and 2.3 blocks. Imagine running a Nene-Haywood-Lawson-Billups-Melo lineup. Who do you double? Nene and Melo will beat you straight up and Chauncey is the outside threat. Haywood will grab the boards and has the beef to body up on the Howards and Gasols of the league. The only downside is that Haywood is 30, and Denver would be adding age.
Why Washington does it: the Wizards are in dire need of a shakeup. The team is going nowhere as presently constructed, and J.R. Smith brings a legit shooting thread alongside Arenas and Butler.
Denver needs to make a move on J.R. - and I believe they will.