Whatever debate there was about Phil Jackson’s ability to institute a culture change in New York is over. He did it could have possibly foreseen.
J.R. Smith has seen the light.
“Trying to consider the rest of the group over my scoring is something that I never actually had to do before,” Smith told ESPNNewYork.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “I’ve been in a situation to score, [now I am ] in position to take my time and let the game come and let my teammates succeed more than myself, I believe that’s the ultimate win.”
For now, it seems Jackson has performed magic, although personal transformations from the preseason have a way of reversing themselves as the year progresses.
Getting Smith to buy into the equal-opportunity tenets of this triangle offense is enormous, and everything after that–figuring out how to coax defense out of a frontcourt rotation between Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire, compelling James Dolan to keep kazoos from the locker room–should be cake.
The Knicks are not so far removed from a 54-win season in 2012-13. Jackson’s influence should help them get closer to that total than the 37 wins last season was amassed by them.
Don’t expect a championship chase–Carmelo Anthony understands some help and maybe not until the contracts on the books slough off in 2015.
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