When looking at the New York Knicks potential starting lineup this season, many New York Knicks’ fans went ahead and penciled in third-year pro Iman Shumpert to start at the 2.
You may want to get your erasers out.
It looks like more than ever that Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson is leaning towards starting J.R. Smith at the shooting guard spot over Shumpert, once Smith recovers from knee surgery and serves his five-game suspension to start the season.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that Woodson revealed that Shumpert experienced knee soreness over the summer and that is one of the main reasons why Smith could elevate from sixth ma to starter.
Woodson said he believes the switch to starter for Smith could “expand his game,” and went as far as labeling him the favorite to win the job. He also said he is worried about Shumpert’s durability.
“He’s been beat up a little bit,’’ Woodson told Berman. “Could be he tried to work too hard. He’s been on and off with our developmental program. When his shoulder went out [in camp], I was, ‘Damn, here we go again.’ He’s had some [time] where his knee has been sore. ‘’
Injuries aside, after being a first-round pick, you would have expected Shump to lock down a starting job by now. But injuries and his inconsistencies at the offensive end have stunted his growth to this point.
Smith, who won the Sixth Man of the Year award last season, seemed comfortable coming off the bench, a role that seemed to fit his personality very well. He became the second unit’s main scorer and put up big numbers doing so.
But Woodson feels that starting Smith won’t hurt the Knicks at all.
“I think he’s past that,’’ Woodson said of Smith coming off the bench. “I want him to be past that. Let someone else get the Sixth Man, if he deserves to win the starting job. Last year was last year. He’s capable of defending, [but] that’s the only question I have. I know Iman can defend and he’s still searching for the offense.”
“You can go back and forth,’’ Woodson added. “I’m going to let the two fight it out.’’
Hopefully Shumpert can thrive off the bench in the fashion that Smith did.
As for Smith starting, it shouldn’t be any different as he played a lot of minutes off the bench last year, a number that won’t likely increase much with him in the starting lineup.
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