After going down with a torn ACL in the 2012 NBA Playoffs, New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert is aiming to return to a basketball court by January 2013. He spoke with the New York Post, which noted that Shumpert is now walking around "under his own power." I find that to be very good news, even if it doesn't give an accurate projection about when he will actually return to the Knicks.
The target date for Shumpert to come back is January, which means that he would miss at least the first two months of the regular season. I think this could give the Knicks a very nice boost and a lot of energy off the bench when he is finally healed. It's too bad that he won't be there to play with the team in the preseason camps though, because I really wanted to see what Shumpert could do with some real preparation heading into the regular season.
During his rookie season for the Knicks, Shumpert played in 59 games. He averaged 28.9 minutes, 9.5 points and 1.7 steals per game. Those steals came from the hard-nosed defense that he played on a nightly basis and in my opinion he is already one of the best defensive guards in the NBA. He still has some growing and maturing to do on the professional scale, but I really loved seeing him shut down opposing point guards almost at will.
I think that Shumpert has turned into a steal for the Knicks, giving the team someone who can be counted on every time down the floor on defense. He could become a lynch pin for the second unit when he does return, but it might be tough for the Knicks to find enough defensive stoppers until he is ready to go. Jeremy Lin isn't exactly known for his defense and it might be tough for the Knicks to keep Eastern Conference point guards like Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams in check.
Having Shumpert out for a while, the Knicks will need to do something in the offseason to increase depth at the guard positions. Mike Bibby, J.R. Smith and Baron Davis are all likely gone, leaving a lot of open minutes that the team has got to fill.
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*Ryan Christopher DeVault is a fan of the New York Knicks that has followed the team since the days John Starks, Charles Oakley, and Anthony Mason instilled their defensive will on the rest of the league.