Two years after they parted ways in Cleveland, veteran shooting guard JR Smith is set to reunite with LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers. After Avery Bradley chose not to rejoin the team when the 2019-20 NBA season resumes in Orlando later this month, the Lakers decided to sign Smith to fill the hole he left on their roster. The Lakers’ decision to replace Bradley with Smith earned mixed reactions all around the league.
Some people, especially those who still remembered the huge mistake he committed in the 2018 NBA Finals, think that bringing Smith to Los Angeles could do harm more than good for the Lakers. Smith isn’t getting any younger and hasn’t played a single game in the 2019-20 NBA season. However, an NBA scout who recently spoke to Sam Amick of The Athletic expressed strong confidence that Smith would be a “big X-factor” for the Lakers in the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
“J.R. is a really big (X-factor),” the NBA scout told Amick, as quoted by ClutchPoints.
“If you get the J.R. who can hit five 3s in a playoff game, then yeah. But I don’t know what J.R. looks like right now. There are just more unknowns. Kyle Kuzma is really good, but he hasn’t really been through the grinder yet of the playoffs, like a true, deep championship run. … Avery Bradley is a huge loss.”
It is, indeed, hard to forget the mistake Smith committed that cost James his second NBA championship title with the Cavaliers. However, no one can deny the fact that in the four years that they played together, Smith made one of the largest contributions in helping James carry the Cavaliers to the NBA finals for four straight seasons and bring home the first Larry O’Brien Trophy in Cleveland. When Smith is in the zone, he could really be a major factor for the Lakers in the upcoming 2020 playoffs.
Smith would give the Lakers a veteran wingman who has plenty of playoff and championship experience. With the years that they played together, Smith also gained a deep knowledge of how to excel alongside James. Smith is capable of filling the hole Bradley left on the defensive end of the floor and, compared to him, he’s a much better shooter. In the 11 years he played in the postseason, the 34-year-old shooting guard averaged 11.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.0 steal on 40.0 percent shooting from the field and 37.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Signing with the Lakers would be very beneficial for Smith. Aside from giving him the opportunity to contend for the NBA championship title, playing in the 2020 NBA playoffs would also help Smith rebuild his value and prove to teams in the league that he still has gas left in his tank.