Woodson has stubbornly insisted on playing a more traditional lineup this season, with Chandler at center, Bargnani at power forward, Anthony at the three and Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert in the backcourt. Last season, the Knicks were much more successful playing a small lineup, with Anthony at the four and two point guards – Felton and Pablo Prigioni or Jason Kidd – in the backcourt. Chandler’s injury will force the Knicks to go small more often, which will mean more minutes for Prigoni (1% owned) and Beno Udrih (1% owned). We could also see more all-around production from Iman Shumpert, (24%) owned who will have to play like a poor man’s Andre Iguodala for the Knicks to get through this stretch at anything approaching a .500 record.
My biggest questions for All-Star Weekend are simple:
“Is there an average NBA fan that can name – without prompting – more than one participant in the Slam Dunk Contest? And if so, does he or she win a prize?”
“Will the notoriously long-winded Alicia Keys finish her halftime performance in less than 60 minutes? Because I sort of suspect that she’ll still be singing in the middle of the third quarter.”
My questions for the second half of the season are a bit more complex, starting with …
Which NBA superstar is fading fastest?
For years, I’ve been avoiding Dwyane Wade in the first round of fantasy drafts, reasoning that, given his injury history, his production will inevitably drop off a cliff. It seems I’ve been fading the wrong All-Star guard.It wasn’t long ago that Deron Williams was just a hair behind Chris Paul in the fantasy point guard rankings. But we haven’t seen him produce at that level for years now. There have been plenty of plausible reasons for his sub-par numbers. He was unhappy in Utah, and then he was playing for an awful Nets team. This year he’s surrounded by talent, but didn’t like Avery Johnson’s offense … and he has dealt with a variety of injuries.
The injuries are most concerning, as they’re really starting to add up. Williams received platelet-rich plasma treatments on both ankles last week, which could indicate that his leg problems are both worse than we thought and not really getting better.
It will be very interesting to see how he plays for the rest of this season and in the playoffs, but as things stand, I won’t be in any rush to draft Williams next year.
How long does an ACL take to heal fully?
Adrian Peterson’s remarkable season – just months removed from a torn ACL – may have given us some funny ideas about how long it takes to recover from that injury. Iman Shumpert’s unimpressive return, and Derrick Rose’s struggles in rehab – should be major reality checks.
As a rookie, Shumpert impressed NBA fans with his quickness, perimeter defense, and ability to get to the rack off the dribble. Since his return from injury, though, he’s been more tentative on both ends of the floor. I’d argue that Mike Woodson’s awkward three-guard lineup, which puts Shump on the floor with both Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, is part of the problem, but that’s an argument for another column. Is he completely healthy? Is he having trouble trusting the knee? Or did we overrate him based on an impressive debut in a big media market?
I know, that never happens with Knicks players. Hang on, I have to go get my Landry Fields jersey out of the dryer.
Of course, Shump is a marginal fantasy prospect in most formats, unlike Derrick Rose.Like Shumpert, Rose tore an ACL during the first round of the playoffs, but the Bulls’ All-Star guard has yet to make an appearance this season, and recently told reporters that he isn’t close to a return.Rose has even suggested that he’ll sit out the entire season to get the knee back to full strength.
What does this tell us?
1. If you’re one of the players holding on to Rose in a non-keeper league – Rose is 83% owned, so there are a lot of you out there – you might want to consider the possibility of using that roster spot more productively.
2. You’ll also want to be very conservative when considering players like Rajon Rondo or likely lottery pick Nerlens Noel in next year’s drafts.
My man Jared Dubin (@jadubin5, to basketball Twitter) wrote this article a while back for my site on About.com.
It is still relevant today… but for different reasons.
Iman Shumpert is a shooting guard.
He may not be one right now due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding the Knicks and their lack of a true point guard, but that’s where he should spend the majority of his career. It’s better that we — and more importantly, the Knicks — recognize this now and proceed accordingly, because wasting precious minutes of his career playing out of position any more than he already has will harm and stunt his development.
I’m not a doctor or an athletic trainer or even a basketball coach. I don’t know why Shump – and by extension, the Knicks – have been struggling of late. But to make an educated guess, I don’t think the three-guard lineups Mike Woodson has been using of late are helping matters. The Felton/Kidd/Shumpert grouping means:
- Someone is guarding a much bigger player. (Felton on Rudy Gay? Really? On purpose?)
- Shumpert is playing out of position on the offensive end. (Is he really the guy we want setting up for a corner three?)
- And Jason Kidd is playing too much.
Not sure how to fix this… maybe shake the rust off of Ronnie Brewer and use him at the three more often. Or put Stoudemire back in the starting five and play Anthony at back at the three to start games. Or start Shump at the two and bring Kidd off the bench with JR Smith.