By Max Marcilla
As every Knicks fan knows by now, a few months ago Coach Mike Woodson made comments about the starting line-up. The Knick head coach told the media that the starting line-up would contain Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. Woodson then said the other 2 spots are unknown, as he said “That’s what we use camp for. I have no idea who’s going to start”.
Now, this has led to many questions about multiple players. The Knicks have many options for the last two players in the starting 5, and the front-runner is Iman Shumpert. But, this left the Knicks with the thought: if it is very likely that Shumpert will start, why didn’t Coach Woodson say he would start?
Now, here are my thoughts on that. First off, there is no doubt in my mind that Shumpert will start. In another one of my articles, I wrote about how I thought Shumpert would eventually become an All-Star on the Knicks, and I believe the organization knows that as well. Not only does Iman have the brightest future out of any Knick, but he is also plays the small forward role very well, a spot that is needed in the starting 5, although not his natural position.
While I think Shumpert will start, I do have a theory for why Mike Woodson didn’t say he was a starter. I think this was a challenge for Shumpert. He has been challenged to become a better shooter and scorer, along with becoming a better passer. He already has the defensive skills to be an All-Star, but it’s time for Shumpert to step up the other parts of his game.
What Shumpert has to do primarily is shoot well. Obviously shooting well will get you scoring more points, resulting in more minutes. Shumpert only shot 35% on jump shots in the playoffs and 32% on mid-range jumpers. He did increase his scoring to just over 12 PPG in the playoffs, but imagine how many more points he would’ve scored if he had hit those open jump shots?
The fact that Shump was not mentioned as part as the starting five was an eye-opener of some sorts, and if Shumpert wants to be an “everyday, no doubt about it” starter, he will have to improve. Woodson gave him motivation, now it’s up to him to perform.