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Iman Shumpert’s Knock-On Effect On Offense

Posted By Howard Megdal On January 14, 2013 @ 11:46 am In Roster construction | Comments Disabled

Look, the news following Sunday’s game that Iman Shumpert would make his season debut Thursday in London was ridiculously good news.
[1]Shumpert is easy to root for, and worked hard to return from the knee injury that ended his season last year. Moreover, his skill defending quick guards is one in short supply on the roster, even with everyone healthy.
But in Sunday’s win, we saw the effect of having Jason Kidd on the floor as a shooting guard along side a point guard, and how much better he is when asked to play fewer minutes. We also saw how the Knicks respond with Carmelo Anthony playing the bulk of his minutes at power forward.
Shumpert helps in both respects.
If there are 96 minutes to be shared at the point and two guard positions, and the Knicks want to, with good reason, keep Kidd under 30, it is really a simple math problem. Where do you get the other 70-75 minutes? J.R. Smith should be playing 25, not 35-40. That’s not because Smith hurts the team; just the opposite. Smith is sufficiently vital that he must be kept fresh over the long-term, and avoid the tired legs that doomed his shooting accuracy in last year’s playoffs.
So call that 50. Where else do they get those minutes? 20 from Pablo Prigioni, tops? And all of those at point guard, but few of Kidd’s there, leaving us another 25 minutes to be filled with James White.
This ceases to be a problem when Felton returns. Shumpert will play guard, one assumes, but can do so to limit the toll on others or spot injured/foul-troubled brethren. But right now, it’s the only way to make the backcourt math work.
A healthy Felton will mean the Knicks can play Anthony at the four without choosing between Chris Copeland’s offense and Steve Novak’s offense, since both offer little on the defensive end. Shumpert, with a healthy Felton, ought to be the starting (and more important, primary) small forward. He’s the team’s only real two-way player at the position. He can be, for real, what Ronnie Brewer was ephemerally back in November.
So sure, Iman Shumpert’s defense is huge. I’m not even convinced that’s the biggest aspect of his return.

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