Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The inclusion of Ray Felton, J.R. Smith and now Iman Shumpert means that Jason Kidd will be left on the sideline during closing seconds. Give me a second, I'll explain.
I'm going against the numbers on this one—which is something I normally wouldn't do. In fourth quarters, Kidd sports an offensive efficiency of 110 and a defensive efficiency of 96, and is a 67-percent shooter on threes from the right side of the court.
Shumpert, who's played just 95 fourth quarter minutes compared to Kidd's 483, hasn't performed as efficiently late in games. He's just a 26-percent shooter—including 1-of-10 from three—in final periods, albeit in an extremely small sample size. His net-rating is minus-8.3.
Despite all this, the fact is that each team the Knicks could be facing in the playoffs has a wing player that can score the ball at will. Shumpert could be assigned the currently seventh-seeded Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce, Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, the Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson or even Dwyane Wade in a matchup with the Miami Heat.
In a potential first-round matchup with the Atlanta Hawks, Shumpert is quick enough to also check a member of the shifty Atlanta backcourt.
His defensive versatility is enough to justify crunch-time minutes for Shumpert, but given his recent offensive explosion, it's almost a no-brainer.
Since March 1, Shump has shot 47 percent from the field and 48 from three-point land. Woodson prefers his wing players to camp out in a corner to await an open three opportunity, and Shumpert has this perfected after more than two months of play. He's made 10-of-14 shots from the left corner and 5-of-10 from the left.
His mid-range game has been on point since then as well, shooting 11-of-19 (58 percent) from 16 to 24 feet.
Kidd's leadership qualities can't be denied, and the Knicks will rely on them to get New York to important stages of postseason play. But once they get there, the 22-year-old Shumpert should be the one closing out the game.