The New York Knicks will have a welcomed return today when they tip off in Chicago at 1 pm. After missing over a week with a sprained knee, Iman Shumpert will play and start vs. the Bulls.
Mike Woodson made it known in his pregame media session that Shumpert hasn’t had much time to get re-acclimated with the team, so there will be some rust.
Nonetheless, the Knicks’ defense has been an utter disaster without Shumpert. For the season, with Shumpert on the floor, the Knicks have a defensive rating of 102.6, which would give them the 14th best defense in the league if it were to maintain. Since Shumpert suffered a knee sprain against the New Orleans Pelicans after the All-Star break, the Knicks’ defensive rating has been 116.3, a whopping 10-point differential from their season average.
Though Shumpert has been criticized plenty this season for failing to live up to lofty expectations, the Knicks sitll need him sorely. He’s the team’s best perimeter defender by a wide margin, and though he gambles often on defense, looking for steals, his on-off numbers prove he’s valuable to the team. In addition, he’s also their best back-court rebounder, and when he’s playing well, he’s one of their best spot-up shooters from beyond the arc.
Hopefully, Shumpert can use these final weeks of the season to get healthy and play well and prove himself as a part of the Knicks’ future. Welcome back, Shump.