At 3-0, it's hard to tell that the Knicks have very little versatility in the backcourt. That's not to say that the guards are bad, but Shumpert's athleticism would add another element to the mix.
According to New York Post reporter Marc Berman, Knicks fans shouldn't expect Shumpert back for awhile:
What you all are saying is not what we’re going by. January, February is what we’re aiming for. I’m just trying to get healthy. When I get healthy, I’ll return to the court. I’m not going to come back and not be able to do the things I did last year and a little more. I want to come back and add something.
The hot start is nice for New York, but there's little doubt that Shumpert would "add something." Jason Kidd is playing very well in his new role as the team's shooting guard, but it's hard to see him maintaining that pace for an 82-game season. J.R. Smith is an instant offense player off of the bench, but he's also inconsistent. That leaves Shumpert as the best option at 2-guard in the long run.
In his rookie season, Shumpert averaged over nine points per game. He's only 22 years old and at 6'5'', he can play both guard spots. There's no doubting how much better New York's depth chart would look with him in it, but rushing him back into the equation isn't worth it.
Seasons are not won in the beginning. It's the end of the season that matters most. Making sure Shumpert is ready to roll come February and into the playoffs should be the Knicks' only goal, not throwing him out there to potentially injure himself again by coming back too early.
The Knicks have gotten production out of every guard on the roster so far. Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni are handling the point, and I already mentioned the other players. Things are OK, at least for now.
Adding an explosive Shumpert to the equation in January or February could provide a tremendous boost for the Knicks. He will take some of the pressure off of Kidd's old legs and bring more athleticism to both ends of the floor.
He can't do any of that at 50 percent, or even 75 percent. It's hard to be patient, but New York is doing the right thing here. The team is playing well, and he will pay dividends down the road.
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