Now that free agency has died down, we’re taking a look at where the Knicks currently stand position-by-position. Today, we look at shooting guard.
New additions: SG Wayne Ellington.
Gone: SG/PG Shannon Brown.
The starter: Head coach Derek Fisher could go in a couple of different ways. He could start Smith and Shumpert if he opts to play Carmelo Anthony at power forward. If he sees Smith as a sixth-man weapon, then he could start Shumpert at shooting guard or start Smith and bring Shumpert off the bench.
The wild card: Smith. When Smith plays at a high level, the Knicks are so much more dangerous. Coming off offseason surgery, Smith got off to a very slow start last year before playing better toward the end of the season. He averaged 14.5 points while shooting 41.5% for the season. When he is on top of his game both physically and mentally, Smith can be a force like he was in 2012-’13 when he averaged 18.1 points, 5.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 42.2% from the field.
Outlook: This position has so much potential for the Knicks. If Smith and Shumpert can regain their form from two seasons ago, the Knicks’ offense -– and defense -- can be potent. Perhaps the triangle can rejuvenate them both as Fisher and Phil Jackson hope that the pair can spark the team on both sides of the ball. Smith could see open catch-and-shoot opportunities in the triangle. Shumpert could spark the team as a defender with steals that lead to transition buckets much like past defenders have done in the triangle like Scottie Pippen and Ron Harper did for Jackson. The Knicks also hope that Hardaway Jr. can continue his progression. He has already proven that he can shoot and catch fire quickly but needs to improve defensively and add more versatility to his offensive game. With the addition of Ellington, the Knicks have streaky but highly flammable shooters who could all be nice fits in the triangle. Smith, Shumpert and Hardaway Jr. will all have to show some discipline in the triangle with their shot selection. Smith may have to cut down on the dribbling in the triangle as well. SG/PG Toure' Murry is an unrestricted free agent.
Question: Who has to have the bigger bounce back season: J.R. or Shumpert?