Iman Shumpert is scheduled to return to action from an ACL tear that has robbed him of playing so far this season. Despite his considerable skill, it won't be enough to fix the New York Knicks' struggles.
The Knicks started the season 18-5, but have slumped to 6-8 in their last 14 games and are struggling to hold off the surging Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference.
Shumpert will be able to provide minutes at both point guard and shooting guard. These positions have both been hurt by Raymond Felton's injury.
With Felton out, Jason Kidd has had to move to point guard, where he's been less effective, and Ronnie Brewer is largely inconsequential at the two-guard position.
What the Knicks need from Shumpert is for him to play point guard.
While he can do that, he's much better at the two-guard. When playing the point last season, Shumpert struggled with decision-making and passing.
So, he's much better suited to play off the ball. That's fine, but it doesn't solve any of the Knicks' struggles. Their descent to mediocrity can be traced back to Felton's injury. The ripple effect it created has really hurt the Knicks.
Shumpert will help the Knicks in the hair department, but fans shouldn't expect him to become an All-Defensive player right away. ACL tears are tricky and he's bound to be rusty. Some players are never quite the same.
The Knicks need to take some pressure off of Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith on the offensive side of the ball, but Shumpert isn't really a great scorer. He averaged 9.5 points per game last year, which is not enough to help out Anthony and Smith.
Finally, for all of Shumpert's defensive skill, he is not an interior defender. The Knicks need another option down low besides Tyson Chandler, and Shumpert cannot provide that.
To sum up, Shumpert's return will be a nice sight for sore eyes. But it won't be enough:
- He's not a point guard.
- He's not an elite scorer.
- He can't defend the interior.
These are the Knicks' main problems right now. Shumpert will help with depth, but he cannot solve these problems. Thus, the Knicks' struggles will return.