The New York Knicks need to start Iman Shumpert if the team plans on competing for a championship this season.
Shumpert brings too much to the table for him to come off the bench. He has the potential to be the ultimate glue guy, as his offensive game continues to grow and complement his elite defense.
However, head coach Mike Woodson has yet to offer Shumpert a spot in New York’s starting lineup, via Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News.
Woodson made no guarantees that Shumpert would be able to reclaim his spot as the starting shooting guard and said that for now the only guaranteed starters are Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton, leaving J.R. Smith, Andrea Bargnani, Shumpert, Metta World Peace and others to battle for the remaining spots in training camp.
While Woodson may be doing Shumpert right by making him work for his spot, the third-year player should have already earned it. Shumpert worked his tail off to return to the court after tearing his ACL in the 2012 playoffs against the Miami Heat and returned as an improved player.
Already known for his stellar defense, Shumpert worked to become a better three-point shooter to better fit in alongside Carmelo Anthony. His hard work paid off, as Shumpert knocked down 40.2 percent of his three-point shots in the regular season.
Sumpert’s ability to knock down open three’s is a better fit in New York’s offense as opposed to J.R. Smith, who needs the ball in his hands to be successful. With ‘Melo demanding so much attention from the defense, Shumpert will often find himself open to knock down a shot.
Shumpert’s drive and competitive nature was seen in his ability to improve his game while rehabbing. However, he still maintains that same ambition despite Woodson not naming him a starter, via cbssports.com:
He shouldn't name me the starting shooting guard, Shumpert said. We don't know who's playing well, who's not. Woody's job is to put the best five players out there. After training camp, he'll assess who he needs to start.
Aside from his improved offensive game, Shumpert’s defense is needed in the starting lineup to guard the opposing team’s best perimeter player. Shumpert has proven time and time again he is up to the task, as you can see below against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Shumpert is a smart defender with quick feet and strong hands, and is capable of making plays similar to the one he made against D.J. Augustin.
Woodson would be wise to start Shumpert alongside Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler and ‘Melo, and he should be the obvious choice, as New York Daily News’ Frank Isola tweeted:
Shumpert is Mike Woodson’s best choice to be in the starting lineup. He gives the team the best chance to win. Shumpert can anchor New York’s perimeter defense and fits in well with his three-point shooting ability on offense.
Let’s hope Woodson makes the right call.