I was looking forward to New York Knicks Rookie Guard Iman Shumpert’s NBA debut yesterday, and wasn’t surprised at all by the NBA caliber aggressiveness he took to the floor with. I expected him to look like a big, strong, guard with as much athleticism as any backcourt player in the Association, and for a brief time he did.
He didn’t shoot it particularly well from the field (3 of 13), but his attack mode mentality allowed him to generate points from the stripe (where he went 5 for 5 of FT’s) and use 22 minutes of work to finish in double figures (11 points). He looked to be at least the short term answer for a Mike D’Antoni rotation specifically short on ball-handling guards, with Chauncey Billups gone and Baron Davis at least a couple months away from being able to play, but unfortunately it’ll be a little while before we’ll see Shumpert again.
In the second half Shumpert went down with what appeared at the time to be a nasty knee injury. Fortunately he didn’t tear anything, but the reports are that he did strain his MCL significantly enough to be sidelined for the next three weeks. In this lockout shortened season, three weeks isn’t exactly what it used to be either. If Shumpert can be back by January 16th at 1pm, exactly three weeks from today, his next game could be at home against the Orlando Magic. In the meantime, the Knicks will have played 11 more times (or 15% of their schedule).
So what now for the Knicks in the interim? I suppose that means Toney Douglas, who played well finishing with 19 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds on 8 of 19 shooting, never comes off the floor I and guess Landry Fields probably never can either. Both starting guards already played 35 and 34 minutes respectively as it is though, so I’m not sure you can squeeze too many more minutes than that out of those guys. SG Bill Walker only played 19 minutes before catching a Kevin Garnett hand to his neck just after the final buzzer, so I imagine and increased role for Walker is a good place to start. Then the next place you’d have to look is Mike Bibby.
There’s kind of a big issue with having to insert Bibby into the line-up though, because if last year is any indication he’s not really good at all anymore. He didn’t necessarily think he’d play any sort of big minutes when he signed in NY either, and even acknowledged that his role might be to “stand on the sidelines cheering” after he was picked up. This from The Sporting News back on December 11th as a reminder:
“I don’t have nothing to prove. Ever since I came in people have doubted me. I’m going on my 14th year,” Bibby said. “I don’t care what you guys say. I don’t care what anybody says about me. I’ve always been like that. I’m going to go out and do whatever it takes to help the team win. If that (means) for me standing on the sideline cheering, that’s what I got to do.”
So that’s not particularly encouraging for Knicks fans right now.
The situation can’t be too encouraging for Shumpert either, who has to have been through a roller coaster of emotions over the last twenty four hours. Anticipation of making his NBA debut, feeling like he’s doing well mid-way through, then going down not knowing exactly how serious an injury he suffered, only to then find out a three week rehab lies squarely ahead with the hope he can get back as soon as possible.
Something Knicks fans are certainly hoping for as well, because they need him.