Tha Sports Junkies 101

What Does The Injury To JR Smith Mean To The Cavaliers?

NBA Ted Lux/ Via Flickr


Cleveland Cavaliers three-point specialist and fan favorite J.R. Smith fractured his thumb and will require surgery, the team announced Wednesday. This comes just after losing Chris “Birdman” Anderson for the season with a torn ACL. Smith is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks with this injury, but an official timetable will not be released until after surgery is completed. Smith had struggled out of the gate so far this season, just averaging 8.8 points on 33.7 percent shooting (35.8 percent from the 3-point line) coming into Tuesday. The time off may be good for the Cavalier swingman, as he missed 5 games earlier this season because of knee and ankle injuries. This additional time off allow his legs to rest and heal heading into the latter part of the season.

What does the injury mean to the Cavs though, as they head into the New Year down a star player and with a young inexperienced backcourt? The simple answer would be: the Cavs still have the big 3 in LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, and they will get the team through the next 6 weeks. True, but as of today, James is averaging the second most minutes played per game in the league behind Timberwolves forward Zach LaVine. Not to mention, Kyrie has already sat games out this year with “tired legs.” By no means is it time to panic for the Cavaliers. They will just need the young guys like Deandre Liggins, who will likely take Smith’s place in the rotation like he did earlier this season when Smith missed time with an injured knee. Jordan McRae will also see his minutes increase while Smith is out.

All in all, this injury could be a blessing in disguise for the Cavaliers. On the one hand it allows Smith to get some rest and gives him a chance to get back to last season’s form, where he averaged 12.4 points a game and was shooting 40 percent from the 3-point line. And on the other hand, this allows young players to get some extra minutes in—and lets other teams to get a look for possible trades. We will all see going forward, but I don’t foresee this hurting the Cavs’ chances of maintaining the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.