Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Knicks need Stoudemire, Shumpert to return to lineup

(Photo courtesy of

After scoring 106 points in their season-opening win against the Celtics, the Knicks have scored 85 points or less in three of their last four games. They played each of these games without rookie Iman Shumpert and the last two without Amar'e Stoudemire.

With the exception of their 114-point outburst against the Kings, who are always allergic to defense, the Knicks have been unable to find a consistent scorer alongside Carmelo Anthony, the only member of the team to score in double digits more than three times so far this season.

Both Stoudemire and Shumpert practiced fully on Tuesday and look primed to return tonight against the Bobcats. The Knicks desperately need Stoudemire's presence as a second scorer and as the team's primary option when Anthony needs a breather.

Shumpert's return may get less publicity than Stoudemire's but it's just as important, as the Knicks need a guard with the ability to create his own shot. If there's anything they've learned about Toney Douglas and Landry Fields through five games this season, it's that they can't.

Shumpert has come a long way from draft night, when countless Knicks fans (myself included) said, "Who?" when his name was called. Those same fans, like myself, likely fell in love with Shumpert's aggressive, fearless nature during the preseason and if they didn't then, they did against Boston.

Getting both players back will do wonders for the Knicks offense as they are arguably the team's second and third-best scorers, but their defense should improve as well with Shumpert's long arms spanning the perimeter. Douglas, a player known for his defense in the past, has struggled on both ends of the court this season.

Stoudemire may not be much more than below-average as an on-ball defender and average in help defense, but his presence will allow impressive second-round rookie Josh Harrellson to move back to the bench and push Jerome Jordan out of the rotation. Harrellson's ability to defend without fouling has been impressive, but he's not a starter.

As much as the Knicks have struggled this season, we've only seen them play once at full strength. That was on Christmas Day, when the off-season excitement carried over in a nice victory over the Celtics, whether Paul Pierce played or not.

With the returns of Stoudemire and Shumpert on the horizon, the Knicks should once again be able to score in bunches and bring back the excitement many fans had for this team just a few weeks ago.

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