Rasheed Wallace hasn’t played since December 13th. He came out of a two-year retirement earlier this season, and proved to be an effective asset for Mike Woodson’s Knicks. That was until he was forced out of play by a stress reaction in his left foot. Since then, Woodson has repeatedly been wrong when predicting his return. But, it is becoming more and more likely that Sheed will finally return after the All-Star break.
Wallace is averaging 7.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG in about 15 minutes off the bench. He provided interior defense support and extra rebounding. Sheed also is very expressive and is a legitimate leader on the court. Many players have sited his input and guidance as key to the team’s hot start to the season.
Many insiders around the league have doubted if Wallace will even return this season. The Knicks have been connected to players such as Kenyon Martin and Lou Amundson as potential replacements. There are rumors that Woodson’s connection with Sheed from their Piston days played a role in keeping him rather than looking elsewhere. If Sheed does return, then we shouldn’t expect him to make a concrete impact right away. However, by the time the playoffs come along, he may play a big role in a deep run.
Here are three things the Knicks should expect from Sheed when he returns:
1) Help for rebounding woes:
The Knicks are the ranked 23rd in the league in rebounding, and average just under 41 per game. In today’s loss to the Clippers, they were out-rebounded 43 to 35. Rasheed, as a big body, helps grab rebounds and boxes out well. If you added in his 4 rebounds per game to the team average then they would be towards the top of the league. The Knicks may have to face the Pacers or Bulls in the playoffs, and they first and eighth respectively.
2) Additional post-presence:
Before Amar’e Stoudemire returned from injury, Sheed was the only big man posting up players down low. He was effective, and even featured at time, when Carmelo was resting. While he will not be needed to provide many points, he can still work in the post, and create opportunities for other players with his above average court vision. Sheed’s high basketball IQ should allow him to be able to effect a few plays on the offensive side of the ball.
3) Anchoring the interior defense:
Defense may be what Rasheed Wallace is best known for, and coincidentally, it is what the Knicks need most. The early defensive juggernaut Knicks are now a distant memory. Between poor perimeter defense and being ranked 29th in shot blocking, the Knicks could use some help. Sheed is averaging almost one block per game this season. He also proved that he still can be effective guarding the low-post, which will come in handy when Tyson Chandler needs rest.