The Los Angeles Lakers will be making their way to Orlando soon, albeit without a player who was in the starting lineup for most of the season when healthy. That player is, of course, Avery Bradley, who will not be attending the season resumption due to health concerns for him and his family from a possible contraction of COVID-19. Dwight Howard officially announced he will be returning, making Bradley the only player that the Lakers will be missing. To cover his absence on the roster, the Lakers signed J.R. Smith, the three-point shooting guard who hasn’t played in almost two years, most recently being on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018-19 season.
Frank Vogel was asked about Smith yesterday, specifically about Smith’s conditioning. Vogel disspelled any worries about that, continuing on to give Smith some big praise (transcribed and reported by Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll).
Frank Vogel on common-sense questions about J.R. Smith's conditioning after over a year off, and why he thinks his return is "a great story." pic.twitter.com/cg5GZiHc6B
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) July 6, 2020
Vogel’s comments at the end look at Smith’s most attractive ability. The ability to drain three-after-three. J.R. Smith even said that his focus will simply be on getting to those corners and wings to shoot threes while also defending at a high level (reported by Mike Trudell of Spectrum Sportsnet).
Danny Green also commented on J.R. Smith, saying the following:
Danny Green says everyone on the team knows J.R. Smith and his game well, and says he thinks "he'll gel just fine… he makes it easy for himself, and makes it easy for us to play with him."
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) July 7, 2020
It seems as though everyone is excited for Smith to be on the team. He will almost assuredly fit in with the veteran-heavy roster of the Lakers, especailly considering his connection to the Lakers’ best player, LeBron James. It’s also great to see that Smith understands what his role will be on the team at such an early stage. He might not get too much playing time in the playoffs, but if/when he does he won’t be expected to handle the ball too much. Instead, LeBron James and the other ball handlers will be hoping for Smith to dive to this wings and corners to show why his nickname is “Swish”. If he does that, then some good defense will just be icing on the cake.