Iman Shumpert's long-awaited return from injury has had its ups and downs so far, but the New York Knicks are certainly happy to have him back in the rotation.
The Georgia Tech product suffered an ACL tear back in April, but after eight long months of hard work, he is finally back in action.
Shumpert has been thrust into the starting lineup from day one, moving in at shooting guard and now small forward with Raymond Felton returning from his hand injury.
As you'd expect, Shumpert has been performing on the defensive end for the Knicks, with only Brooklyn's Joe Johnson causing him any serious problems.
While playing at the 2—where he has logged the most minutes—Shumpert has a defensive rating of 96.6, close to his total of 95.6 in 2012-13.
It's Shumpert's offense that has been the most interesting aspect to look at so far, with the guard averaging only 6.3 points per game in these first few weeks.
Considering just how severe an injury Shumpert suffered, it was expected that his offense would take a hit, and that it would take a few games for him to really get back into the swing of things.
That said, Shumpert's jump shot has clearly improved, which was one of his weaknesses from his rookie campaign. Shump has an effective field goal percentage of .480 through these first nine games, up from his .401 clip from 2011-12.
As Shumpert said in an interview with KnicksNow.com, the injury has been a blessing in disguise for him, as it has forced him to improve on his shooting stroke during the times when there was really nothing else he could do.
Shumpert's real trouble has come in the paint, where he has struggled to penetrate and finish inside the way he did last year. His effective field goal percentage from in close is a woeful .222, with 11 percent of his attempts being blocked by opposition bigs.
Even getting to the line hasn't been a saving grace for Shumpert, who has had only four attempts in his first nine games.
Shumpert's PER has improved from 10.8 to 13.1, and his overall effective field goal percentage is also up from his 2011-12 campaign.
Looking past the numbers, Shumpert appears to have at least passed the eye test. His defense is up to scratch, and he definitely looks more comfortable with his jump shot. Even though he hasn't been finishing in the paint, Shumpert doesn't look fearful there, as evidenced by his attempt in London in his first game back to posterize Greg Monroe.
Much like Amar'e Stoudemire and his knee injury, Shumpert is expected to improve as his minutes increase. After all, he isn't seeing nearly as much court time per game as he typically did last year.
It's best for Shumpert and the Knicks for his struggles to come now, with the hope that by playoff time he will have more confidence in driving to the basket and more used to finishing after drawing contact.
For now, though, Shumpert receives the following grades for what he's done in limited action following his return:
Overall, it has been a solid start, and you have to take into account when looking at the numbers that he is playing only 19.3 minutes per game and mainly being relied on for defense.
By April, expect him to be a major difference-maker on that end of the floor and to continue shooting at a high level from outside with an improved inside game.
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