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If you comb the interwebs for the worst performances in sports history, there are quite a few bad notches out there, even for great players like Lebron and Michael Jordan. Then of course, there are the terrible players in history, the draft busts and the flat-out goofballs (see Shaqtin’ A Fool for any examples). Then there’s the head-scratchers. The players who have shown flashes of greatness over the years, who clearly have potential to be something more than what the body of work they currently¬†possess showcases. J.R. Smith teeters somewhere in between all of this.

Smith in his career has done a whole lot. While in New York in 2013 Smith was the NBA Sixth Man of the Year. The Knicks had the 2nd best record in the East that season, and good ol’ J.R. averaged a healthy 17 points per game. Just the year before this Smith would turn out to be the mother-lovin(for lack of a better word) man in the Chinese Basketball Association. Racking up 34 ppg on 50%+ shooting. He was the scoring champion there and a CBA All-Star.

He’s never been an all-star in the NBA, and while he did win c0-MVP in the McDonald’s All American game out of high school, we are now left with remnants of what could have been on a player who seems to have all of the tools to be an incredible force in the greatest league in the world.

So, here we are now…After becoming an NBA Champion a couple of years ago, with Lebron James and Kevin Love leading the way, you would think Smith could put together at least a taste of what we witnessed while he was with Melo and the Knicks, but it just hasn’t seemed to work out. This has all culminated with what we witnessed in Game 2 of this year’s Eastern Conference Finals, with Smith going 0-6 from the floor, scoring zero points and being ejected for a flagrant foul that he admits to during a post-game interview. What has happened to J.R. Smith? The high flying, flamboyant firecracker that we all came to know and love in his days with Melo in Denver and New York?

I’m convinced something has him spooked. That his will to be great has been deflated by a source unknown to us. It is hard to believe that Lebron just isn’t as motivating as some of his previous superstar counterparts, and one would think that after winning a championship in the surprising and unbelievable fashion (coming back from 3-1, anyone?) he did with the Cleveland in 2016 would be motivation enough to turn the juice on and at least show face in these situations.

 

Has a starting shooting guard on any team in the NBA ever landed a goose egg in a conference or league finals game? For Smith’s sake, I hope he is not the (un)proud new owner of this superfluous stat.

Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals airs this Saturday on ESPN.

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