Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Iman Shumpert could enter the Knicks starting lineup Friday at the Washington Wizards.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni conceded after practice Thursday that the rookie out of Georgia Tech could replace point guard Toney Douglas or shooting guard Landry Fields in the starting lineup.
“Everything is on the table,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll try to figure out the best starting lineup, what’s the best way to rotate people and what’s the best way to win.
“There are a lot of things you have to think about it; people’s psyche, are they better coming off the bench.”
As suggested in my column from Wednesday night, the Knicks must decide whether Shumpert can best help the team by starting or coming off the bench.
Coming off the bench in his first game since injuring his right knee Christmas Day against the Boston Celtics, he went for 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting in Wednesday’s 118-110 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, and finished +1 despite leaving the game in the fourth quarter with leg cramps.
Fields scored just five points on 2-for-5 shooting and finished -21.
Douglas went 6-for-17 for 13 points, five assists and four turnovers and was a -6.
“I don’t think he would care [whether he starts],” Paul Hewitt, who coached Shumpert at Georgia Tech before taking over at George Mason, told SNY.tv Thursday night. “He just wants to play.
“He’s a young man that he’s maturing very rapidly. He’ll do whatever the coach wants him to do.”
While fans love Shumpert’s athleticism — they chanted “We Want Shum-pert” after he left in the fourth period — Hewitt said he is true student of the game.
“People look at his athleticism,” Hewitt said, “but he’s a big-time student of the game. He studies film. He always talked to me about different concepts.
“Defensively, he’ll get his own film, break down what a guy does. Trust me, he’s a very smart player. He’s just got to make sure he stays focused and he will.”
For a team that gave up 118 points — including a season-high 27 to Boris Diaw — the Knicks need all the defensive help they can get.
Whether or not Shumpert starts remains to be seen.
“He’s obviously going to play a big part of it one way or another,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll just try to figure out what is the best way to go.”
Photo: Barton Silverman, NY Times
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.