Is J.R. Smith's toned down nightlife the key to the New York's 6-0 start to the season? Or is it his 3-point shooting? And, in that case, is his tamed lifestyle the key to his shooting success?
While there are many factors contributing to the Knicks' sterling start to the NBA season, Smith's contribution is undeniably one of them. The 27-year-old shooting guard has been a dynamo off the bench.
Smith opened up recently about a change in his off-the-court habits between this season and last.
"I'm not going to lie. The New York City nightlife pretty much got to me. I was going out pretty much every other night and not focused on the task at hand," Smith told ESPNNewYork.com about last season, before describing how things are different. "Every day I'm getting into the gym, getting in as much work as I can. A lot of times previously in my career, I had negative energy coming into the gym, not wanting to be there, joking around, goofing off. This year, it's been more serious."
Perhaps when Smith arrived in The City That Never Sleeps, he was a little overwhelmed with the evening options. After all, he spent a majority of his career in Denver and was playing in China during the lockout.
In the 35 games he has played with the Knicks in the shortened 2011-2012 season, Smith averaged 12.5 points per game and shot 34.7 percent from long range. Through the first six games this season, he's shooting an astounding 73.7 percent from beyond the 3-point line and 18 points per game.
Oh, and the Knicks haven't lost yet.
Only time will tell if Smith can keep his productivity at such a high level. But for now, it's hard not to point to his sacrifice as a small factor in the Knicks' success.
Such a personal change worked with Usain Bolt, who broke up with his girlfriend months before the London Olympics in order to limit his distractions. The sprinting superstar went on to win three gold medals becoming the first man to win the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay golds in back-to-back Olympics. On the other side of the spectrum, free agent running back Lendale White gave up tequila in 2009 and lost 30 pounds. He hasn't played since.