Cesar Tordesillas

New York, NY

Knicks guard J.R. Smith will be named NBA Sixth Man of the Year, beating out Clippers guard Jamal Crawford.

Smith sizzled as the second scoring option to Carmelo Anthony, averaging 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds a game.

He gained control of the award with a huge March and April by adding a driving element to his scoring arsenal after being encouraged by Knicks coach Mike Woodson.

"If you're going to be a scorer in this league, you got to mix it up,'' Woodson recalled what he told Smith. "If you don't use the free-throw line in this league as your friend, it's going to be a struggle."

Smith eventually graduated from just shooting jump shots to also taking the ball to the bucket.

From the inception, Woodson had envisioned Smith to be the catalyst for the second unit.

"I just thought for our team we needed to establish guys coming off the bench to make plays,'' Woodson said.

Smith was initially disappointed he wouldn't start but got over the decision quickly.

"I pretty much accepted it right away. I've been known as a selfish player for so long. I wanted to show my teammates I'm not,'' explained Smith.

He added, "(Woodson) always told me it's not who starts. It's who finishes the game and 99 percent of the time I'm finishing.''

Woodson himself is a Coach of the Year candidate party because of the way he handled the enigmatic Smith, who got caught up in the New York nightlife last season but cleaned up his act.

Smith can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, which he is expected to do.

Indiana's Paul George Named Most Improved Player

For showing tremendous progress this season, Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George has been selected as the NBA's Most Improved Player, the league announced Tuesday.

George received 52 first-place votes and had 311 points, beating New Orleans guard Greivis Vasquez (146 points) and Milwaukee center Larry Sanders (141) in the voting.

The award is determined by a vote of writers and broadcasters covering the NBA.

In his third year with Indiana, George averaged 17.4 points over 79 games as the Pacers won the Central Division title.

George also had career bests in rebounds (7.6 per game), assists (4.1) and steals (1.8). He averaged 12.1 points and 5.6 rebounds a game last season.

With the award, George became the fourth Indiana player to be voted Most Improved Player behind Jalen Rose won in 2000, Jermaine O'Neal in 2002 and Danny Granger in 2009.








Knicks' J.R. Smith Wins NBA's Sixth Man Honor