The New York Knicks are currently without a couple of important guards, but there's little doubt as to which one they'll miss more.
After having knee surgery, Ronnie Brewer should be back in time for the start of the regular season, whereas Iman Shumpert won't be back until December at the very earliest, as he continues recovering from a torn ACL.
Brewer will miss out on some opportunities to become acquainted with head coach Mike Woodson's system in training camp, but he won't be missing for long.
Even if both guards were hypothetically missing the same amount of time, Shumpert's absence would still be the more painful one.
Both of these guys are studs on the defensive end, but Shumpert brings a lot more to the table as a scorer. It won't necessarily show up in their respective stat lines. While Shumpert averaged 2.6 more points per game, he also played an additional four minutes—meaning he still scored 2.1 extra points per 40 minutes, a marginal but noticeable difference.
But the disparity has less to do with production than how those points were produced.
Brewer benefited from Derrick Rose's presence, cutting to the basket and being rewarded for it. He also picked up plenty of points hustling and crashing the offensive glass, virtues the Knicks don't need quite as badly as the things Shumpert brings to the table.
And what might those be?
New York's second-year guard is already the better long-range shooter, and you have to think he'll only continue to get better. He's also the better scorer, even though Brewer was slightly more efficient by the numbers.
Keep in mind that Brewer did much of his damage assisted, while Shumpert was left to create much of his own offense, at times playing the role of a combo-guard. He also shot the ball more frequently, which is in part a product of his need to improve shot selection—nothing new for a rookie guard.
Both players will play important roles this season to be sure.
Brewer should alleviate the need for Carmelo Anthony to spend time defending the other team's best wing scorer. Shumpert serves as another ball-handler and slasher in a backcourt that needs exactly that.
With Jason Kidd reduced to spot-up duty, and J.R. Smith opting to do most of his damage from the perimeter, Raymond Felton becomes the only guy really willing to use his quickness to penetrate. And he's no Derrick Rose.
Those three guards took a combined 13.5 three-point attempts last season.
That's all well and good when it comes to spacing the floor, but it would be nice to have someone who could drive and then kick them the ball so they get some good looks. Who better for the job than Shumpert?
As he improves his court vision, Shumpert could bring an important dimension to NYC's offense.
None of that should take away from the toughness Brewer will bring to the game. But when it comes to determining whose recovery will be more painful for Knicks fans, there's really no debate.