New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert

Shumpert, Jason Smith look like starters

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
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Derek Fisher's starting five is starting to take shape.

Fisher went with Iman Shumpert at shooting guard and Jason Smith at power forward in the New York Knicks' preseason finale Friday, against the Toronto Raptors in Montreal.

Those two are likely to start in the regular-season opener as well.

[+] EnlargeJason Smith, Brandon Davies
Mark Konezny/USA TODAY SportsYou may be seeing a lot of Jason Smith with the Knicks this season.
"We’re still identifying a specific group of guys that work best together, but I think it’s safe to say it’s close to it," Fisher told reporters in Montreal, when asked if he'd stick with this lineup for Wednesday's game against the Chicago Bulls. "Over the next four, five days we’ll hopefully get more work and get those guys comfortable with each other."

Fisher has said all along he's looking for lineups that are well-balanced defensively. So it makes sense to start Shumpert over J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr., the other two candidates at shooting guard. Shumpert is the strongest individual defender on the roster.

He will share a backcourt spot with Jose Calderon, who missed the final two preseason games with a calf injury but is expected to play Wednesday.

It will be interesting to see how Fisher divides the minutes up with Shumpert, Hardaway Jr. and Smith. All three can handle the ball or play small forward, so they can share the floor together at times. But you'd think at least one guy will get fewer minutes than he'd hoped for coming into the season.

In the frontcourt it appears Jason Smith will start, alongside Samuel Dalembert and Carmelo Anthony.

Fisher started Andrea Bargnani at power forward in the preseason opener, but Bargnani missed the Knicks' final six preseason games due to a hamstring injury. His status for Wednesday is uncertain. And it looks like Fisher will turn to Smith instead of Amar'e Stoudemire and Quincy Acy.

Smith has good range on his shot, and has shown a proclivity for using his size and strength to battle for rebounds and defend the paint.

Assuming Fisher starts Smith, it will be interesting to see how he divides the minutes up with Stoudemire, Acy and Bargnani on the second unit.

Question: Do you think starting Shumpert at shooting guard and Smith at power forward is the right call? Or should Fisher consider a different starting five?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Shumpert trying to maintain positive energy

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Iman Shumpert is trying to smile and be more positive this season.

The Knicks guard said he is trying to foster a better, more positive energy.

“It is hard,” Shumpert said. “Because I want to play so hard and I want to win so bad, sometimes I get caught up [if] we lose a couple of games and I get caught up in that bad energy. Those things easily affect me.”

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Shumpert
“But this year I’m going to try and push myself to be positive,” he continued. “Be positive, be positive and keep bringing that energy each and every day, don’t let anything bother me.”

Shumpert is focusing on feeling better physically as well as mentally. Last season, he battled through some knee issues in the same knee on which he had surgery.

He said he is looking forward to being healthier this season and he wants to take a healthier mental approach as well.

“Just limiting distractions, being able to look yourself in the mirror and know you worked hard all summer and, you know I’m going to miss shots, I’m going to make plenty of mistakes,” Shumpert said. “It’s not going to be perfect. Some people are going to like me, some people won’t. It doesn’t really matter. Right now we just got to win games.”

Shumpert said one thing he has done is try to stay away from hearing or reading anything said about him.

“Can’t read anything,” Shumpert said. “Can’t let anything bad get inside. Keep feeding yourself with positivity.”

“I’m 24,” he added. “I’m playing basketball. It’s my dream job. So I’m a pretty happy camper. My Mom told me to smile so I’m just going to smile through it. My worst day I’m just going to try and smile.”

Andrea limited: Andrea Bargnani (hamstring) was limited in practice on Thursday.

Head coach Derek Fisher said he would like to get closer to potentially having his starting lineup and rotation down perhaps by next Wednesday’s preseason game against Washington. But Bargnani’s availability could alter those plans.

“I think Andrea’s getting closer and closer to feeling like we can have him back out there and not worry about it kind of lingering,” Fisher said. “So that could impact [the timetable for a rotation] a little bit, but hopefully by the middle of next week by the time we get to Wednesday’s game we can feel pretty good about having a solid rotation of guys that give our team the best chance to win to start the season.”

ESPN Forecast: Knicks finish 38-44

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
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Carmelo is back and he has Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher to run things.

The Knicks should be better than last season right? Well, according to ESPN’s NBA Insider forecast, the Knicks will be one win better than last season.

That’s right, ESPN Forecast predicts the Knicks to go 38-44 and finish ninth in the Eastern Conference, one spot behind the Brooklyn Nets. Ouch.

Insider’s Jordan Brenner writes: “It's hard to imagine things being much better for the Knicks. They have the makings of a fairly effective offense, but their defense could be dreadful, especially after subtracting [Tyson] Chandler and adding [Jose] Calderon to a unit that already struggled at that end.”

Last year, SCHOENE correctly predicted the Knicks would finish 37-45 but had the Knicks placing seventh in the East. They did not make the playoffs, ending in the ninth spot.

This year, SCHOENE projects the Knicks to finish with a 32-50 record.

Jackson made changes to the roster, jettisoning Chandler and Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin. He drafted Cleanthony Early and added the likes of Jason Smith, Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw.

And of course, Jackson hired Fisher to coach. It remains to be seen how this current cast of Knicks will do in the triangle system before Jackson can potentially bring in significant help next summer.

For what it’s worth, my prediction is the Knicks will win 42 games. I definitely think there will be growing pains with the triangle. Fisher has never coached before and there will plenty of bumps in the road. Mastering the triangle is also no easy task. It could take months if not the season to learn it.

But last season, the Knicks lost a few games looking completely unmotivated. The Knicks also lost some games due to mental mistakes and lack of execution late. My guess is that the Knicks won’t lack motivation this season under a new coaching staff with Phil keeping a watchful eye as he assesses who to keep around.

Also, there are key players on contract years as well. Carmelo Anthony wants to prove that he can win playing it Phil’s way in the triangle and that he made the right decision by re-signing with the Knicks. Also, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are looking for bounce-back seasons.

Yes, the Knicks defense could be severely challenged on many nights. The offense might struggle to adapt to the triangle and there could be some ugly nights. But the Knicks have enough talent around Melo to win 42 games provided they can stay healthy.

What do you think of the ESPN Forecast prediction and what is your prediction for the season?

Melo sees a more confident Hardaway Jr.

October, 12, 2014
Oct 12
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Even though it’s only been a few weeks, Carmelo Anthony can see a difference in Tim Hardaway Jr. already this season.

“I see a more confident Tim,” Anthony said. “And Tim’s got a lot of confidence. I see a lot more confidence in Tim, knowing how good of a player he could be. I think he believes that now. He believes in himself a lot more now. And it’s only going to grow.”

The second-year shooter already plays and carries himself with a lot of confidence. That could clearly be seen last season as the rookie averaged 10.2 points, 42.8% shooting overall and 36.3% three-point shooting in 81 games. That earned him first-team All-Rookie honors.

This offseason, Hardaway Jr. wanted to work on improving his defense and being more vocal. The swingman got an early jump on learning Derek Fisher’s system by playing in the summer league. And he also was chosen to a select team that practiced with Team USA. That should only have helped boost the young player’s confidence.

“Yeah I feel different,” Hardaway Jr. said. “A little stronger, more confident out there on the court, more vocal. It's great to have veterans around me to encourage me to keep doing what I'm doing.”

An even more confident Hardaway Jr. could be a nice weapon for Fisher to have. Already armed with J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert at shooting guard and perhaps small forward, Fisher has a nice trio of swingmen to use in the triangle with Hardaway Jr.

All three can score and provide good length and size for Fisher’s rotation at guard. It remains to be seen how the playing time will be divided up between the three but comfort in the triangle will certainly help.

In two preseason games Hardaway Jr. is averaging 14.5 points and has shot 8-for-15 from the field. He’s made 3-of-6 3-point attempts. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that an aggressive Hardaway Jr. went to the line 11 times and made 10 free throws to finish with 18 points in the preseason opener against Boston.

“I think summer league helped out big time,” Hardaway Jr. said. “It feels good. I think I had more opportunities to get the feel for the coaching staff and really get the feel for the guys that are on the team right now that they invited.

“We've got that chemistry and we're definitely in practice helping out the veterans to make sure they’re running the plays the right way.”

Hardaway Jr. also said that he hopes to improve on the defensive end this season, an area at which he struggled last season.

“This year I just want to focus on giving energy on both ends of the floor,” he said. “Just really really trying to concentrate on the defensive end, whatever it takes to get better. I know we have a great coaching staff here. I’m going to do whatever I can to get better on that end.”

A more confident Hardaway Jr. – on both ends of the floor -- makes Melo happier.

“I need Tim's confidence to be sky high,” Anthony said. “I don't care how high (his confidence) gets. I need him to have all that confidence.”

Iman Shumpert starts over J.R. Smith

October, 11, 2014
Oct 11
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UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher went with Iman Shumpert at shooting guard in his starting lineup for Saturday night's preseason game against the Boston Celtics.

Shumpert missed the team's first preseason game with a hamstring injury. He replaced J.R. Smith in the starting five, alongside Jose Calderon, Carmelo Anthony, Quincy Acy and Samuel Dalembert.

Shumpert had six points on 3-for-6 shooting in his debut.

"I think anytime Iman's on the floor he make a difference because of his activity level," Derek Fisher said. "He was impact full ... i think his presence was importance to us tonight."

Smith was impact full as well, finishing with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Calderon and Anthony were very strong. Calderon had nine points, including seven in a row in a big second-quarter stretch. Anthony finished with 16 on 7-for-14 shooting.

The Knicks have an interesting competition going on at shooting guard. Shumpert, Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. will battle for minutes at the position (although two or even all three of them can share the floor).

Fisher cautioned that it is too early to make any final lineup decisions, saying he just wants to view different combinations of players.

"That's what this preseason is about which is why different times we are watching different lineups," Fisher said. "(We're) trying to get a gauge for not just the starters and singling guys out but which five guys work best to start out the game and the type of guys that we need to come off the bench that will supplement the guys we start with."

Acy was in the starting lineup in place of Andrea Bargnani, who was out with a hamstring injury. It's noteworthy that Fisher chose Acy instead of Amar'e Stoudemire.

Shumpert started at shooting guard for most of last season, but Smith supplanted him in the final 20 games. Both seemed to thrive in their new roles, as the Knicks finished the season on a 14-6 run.

Fisher said he is aware of how things went last season but won't base his lineup decisions on what happened last year.

"It would be tough to use that as a way to gauge what would work best for this team with new personnel and a new way of playing offense and defense," Fisher said.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Knicks' Shumpert expected to play Saturday

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
8:50
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Knicks shooting guard Iman Shumpert is expected to make his preseason debut Saturday against the Celtics.

Shumpert missed Wednesday’s preseason opener due to a hamstring injury.

Coach Derek Fisher said Shumpert participated in most of the Knicks’ practices on Thursday and Friday. Unless he wakes up Saturday feeling sore, Shumpert should play against Boston.

It is unclear, though, if Shumpert will be in the starting lineup. Fisher chose to start J.R. Smith at shooting guard in the first game. Smith started alongside Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani, Samuel Dalembert and Jose Calderon.

Fisher wasn’t ready to announce his starting lineup Friday. He said he wanted to speak with his assistant coaches before making a final decision.

It will be interesting to see if Smith gets the nod at shooting guard again, and if Bargnani starts over Amar'e Stoudemire again.

“We still view this as a great opportunity to figure out some things in terms of which guys work well together,” Fisher said. “We want to make sure when we do have our final starting lineup, when opening night comes, that it’s the right choice.”

Fisher looking for fewer turnovers: The Knicks turned the ball over 28 times Wednesday. Fisher hopes they take better care of the ball Saturday.

“A (few) less turnovers,” Fisher said, when asked what he’d like to see the Knicks change in their second game. “Another guy or two looking like they're starting to figure out some things and they're starting to figure out positions.

“It will still look disjointed at times but we want to see progress.”

As Joe Flynn pointed out in a story for SB Nation’s Posting and Toasting, fans should expect a higher number of turnovers from the Knicks simply because they will be passing the ball more often in the triangle offense.

Fisher added that he’d like to see the Knicks shore up some things on the defensive end as well. New York allowed Boston to shoot 49 percent from the field Wednesday.

Anthony thinks the Knicks will be more relaxed Saturday.

“How hard we’ve worked in the past doesn’t indicate what happened the other day," he said. "I mean, I think we will be better tomorrow. We’ll be much more relaxed as a team, especially seeing the film, seeing where we could have got better.”

It is unclear at this point if center Jason Smith will play Saturday. Smith's wife gave birth earlier this week.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Derek Fisher isn’t revealing his starting lineup for his first preseason game yet.

Following Tuesday’s practice, Fisher said he will let his team know at the Wednesday morning shootaround what his starting lineup will be against the Celtics in Hartford that night.

“It’s still somewhat open, not because I’m still debating it; we haven’t had our final meeting as coaches this evening [yet],” Fisher said after Tuesday's practice. “We’ve mixed the groups up a lot during this first week. We have an idea, but we’ll make some decisions this evening and then hopefully by the time we come to shootaround, we’ll be able to inform the guys so they can prepare themselves and get the right mentality.”

At one point during the portion of practice open to the media, Fisher had a group of Jose Calderon, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Samuel Dalembert working together in a five-on-zero drill. But Fisher did mix up the groups after that.

When asked if that initial five could be his starting unit, Fisher said he tried many different groups.

“Today was just another day of kind of mixing it up,” he said. “But not because certain guys are going to definitely be in the starting lineup.”

Injury update: Tim Hardaway Jr. (hip), Iman Shumpert (hamstring) and Amar'e Stoudemire all practiced Tuesday after being limited Monday.

Fisher has had Stoudemire on a practice plan to maintain his health for the season.

“I think everyone looked really good today, but between the training staff, medical staff, coaches, we’ll decide what’s best for each guy and what’s best for the team,” Fisher said of whether the three will be available to play against Boston.

Fish debut: Fisher said he is excited to finally coach in a preseason game.

“I’m excited about it,” the first-time head coach said. “I’m looking forward to it. As much as we’re throwing at our players and giving them a lot to learn and grasp, as a young coach, I have a lot to learn and grasp myself. I’m excited for the opportunity to get out there as close as possible to a real game.”

Shumpert, Hardaway limited in practice

October, 6, 2014
Oct 6
5:13
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Amar'e Stoudemire participated in practice but did not go through any contact Monday.

Shumpert is nursing a hamstring ailment. Hardaway Jr. has inflammation in his hip, and Stoudemire was held out as part of the Knicks’ plan to maintain the veteran’s health.

Hardaway
Hardaway Jr.
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Shumpert
Coach Derek Fisher said the Knicks are being cautious with Shumpert and Hardaway Jr. -- both also did not undergo contact in scrimmages late during Saturday's practice.

“I think Shump's had a hamstring that's been bothering him a little bit off and on,” Fisher said. “If you don't take care of those the right way, they can linger all season. Tim has some hip inflammation that's kind of bothering him a little bit. So we're just trying to be smart with all of our guys.”

Fisher said he thinks both players could play if needed. The Knicks face the Boston Celtics in preseason games Wednesday and Saturday. The Knicks coach said he wants to wait and see before deciding whether either swingman will play this week.

“Strain, pull, something,” Shumpert said to describe his injury. “I could play, but they don’t want it nagging me all season. Coach and them are just taking the necessary precautions.”

“They said if it’s bumps or bruises, they’d let me play,” he added. “But since it’s a muscle, they don’t want anything to linger on throughout the season, so they just sit [me] out and get through it. That’s what we’re doing.”

As for Stoudemire, Fisher said the Knicks have a specific plan for the big man.

“We're just trying to be smart with him, as well,” said Fisher, who ran the team through a 3-hour, 20-minute practice Monday after having Sunday off. “There isn’t any acute or traumatic reason why he's limited on some days. On some days he's doing everything we're asking him to do. Saturday, he was in from start to finish.”
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony thinks he will be playing primarily small forward this season.

After playing a good deal of power forward -- and excelling at that position -- over the past two seasons, Anthony thinks he will be mostly a small forward this season.

“We got too many,” Anthony said of power forwards on the roster. “I don’t need to go down there and battle. For what?”

“If it comes down to it, I’ll go back there,” Anthony added. “But I doubt it. They’re going to move me. We’re pretty packed at four and five positions.”

In the triangle, Derek Fisher envisions his players playing multiple positions.

“I mean, Carmelo can play any position in our system,” Fisher said. “It’s not necessarily about the number of the position. I don’t think I can say at the moment what we’ll do.”

“Our wing players do the same things on both sides of the floor,” Fisher added. “So it just depends on what’s ultimately best for the team ... We like the big guys on our roster right now, so we at least want to give them an opportunity. But we’ll see how it goes over these next couple weeks.”

Anthony lost some weight in the offseason, but he says that did not have to do with the fact that he thought he would play more small forward.

“Honestly, I thought I would be all over the floor, playing on the top, outside,” he said. “I think in this system more than anything, playing on the wing is where I like to be. Playing in the post is where I like to be. And the way we play, we’re all over the court, so you never know where you’re going to get the ball, you never know where you’re going to be.”

“I was always a small forward,” Anthony added. “Coach K [USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski] made me a power forward.”

Anthony is eager to see how he will benefit by playing in the triangle. He believes the system will take pressure off of him and some of the burden of carrying the team.

In the offseason, Anthony spoke to Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Kobe Bryant about the triangle and what he needs to know about playing within the system.

“Everybody said the same thing: You’ve got to be patient,” Anthony said. “Sometimes in a system like this you can overthink, and it can alter the way you go out there and approach the game. But if you play your game within the system, I mean everything works out for the best.”

Nagging injuries: Fisher said Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. watched some scrimmaging at the end of practice to rest some ailments.

“Just with those two guys, they kind of have some nagging injuries,” Fisher said. “It’s best to have those guys out once we got to some of the most intense parts. I mean Shumpert and Tim were in early, and the most of the stuff we did in the first half of practice, and so we thought it was smart to be careful with those two guys coming off of a long week.”

“So nothing that we at this point believe is serious or long term,” Fisher added. “We’re just giving them the best chance to be healthy as quickly as possible.”

J.R.: This camp is 'definitely a clean slate'

September, 29, 2014
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- J.R. Smith is looking forward to starting training camp without having to worry about his health or an impending suspension.

“I think it’s definitely a clean slate,” Smith said at Knicks media day on Monday about going into camp this year. “I think it will be a more productive start of the year for me. There’s nothing hanging over my head whether it’s injuries, suspensions stuff like that. So I’m starting out from Day One with my team and it’s a great feeling.”

Last season, Smith came into camp recovering from offseason knee surgery. He also had to serve a five-game suspension to start the season for violating the terms of the NBA's anti-drug program.

Smith got off to a slow start last season, averaging just 11.7 points and 32.8% shooting and 28.6% three-point shooting in the month of November. He averaged 12 points in the months of December and January but slowly started to play better.

“I didn’t feel like I did two years ago until the last 30 games of the year,” said Smith, who really got hot at the end averaging 23.4 points and 46.3% three-point shooting in his last seven games in April.

Head coach Derek Fisher has not committed to a starting five yet. Smith and Iman Shumpert should have a healthy competition in training camp if Fisher opts to start just one of them. Tim Hardaway Jr. also will push for minutes after an impressive rookie season.

[+] EnlargeJ.R. Smith
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty ImagesLast season, Smith averaged 12 points in the months of December and January.
Smith, the Sixth Man of the Year in 2012-13, believes he and Shumpert will elevate their games.

“I don’t look at it as a rivalry,” Smith said of the competition with Shumpert. “I think it’s great for the game of basketball. If I don’t push him and he doesn’t push me then we’re both wasting each other’s time. And I don’t think we want to do that.”

“I think we can hit people from three totally different angles,” Smith added of himself, Shumpert and Hardaway Jr. “I think there’s not a team in this league that has what we have at the shooting guard spot and I think that’s very unique ... you should look at it as a dynamic trio like people do with running backs in football.”

Smith, 29, plans to bring a more mature approach after admitting that he made things difficult for himself at times last season. His shoelace antics led to $50,000 in fines.

Having played 10 seasons in the league, Smith doesn’t want to waste the time he has left in his career.

“Just trying to get closer to my goal which is winning an NBA championship, just doing whatever it takes,” Smith said. “Spend meaningful time on the court and not just waste time. Do whatever it takes whether it’s working harder or staying later, preparing, doing whatever it takes to win.”

“In my eyes, it’s a failure if I spend this much time in the league and not win,” he added. “I’ve got some time to make up.”

Burning Q's: Who must break out?

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24
11:09
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With training camp less than a week away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the New York Knicks.

Today’s question: Who needs to break out this season for the Knicks?

Let’s start by going over the possible breakout candidates for the Knicks.

Tim Hardaway Jr. –- The second-year shooter is coming off an impressive rookie season in which he averaged 10.2 points and shot 36.3% from behind the arc in 23 minutes a game.

Hardaway Jr. could take another step forward and have a breakout season. He admittedly still has to improve on his defense and will have to be more consistent. But he’s a good breakout candidate.

SportsNation

Who needs to break out this season for the Knicks?

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    4%
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    3%
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    4%
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    55%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,443)

Jason Smith –- The new Knicks center is looking to showcase his game in the triangle and would appear to be a good fit in Derek Fisher’s system. The 7-footer can bury the mid-range jumper. We will have to see how well he can pass and defend. And, more importantly, can he stay on the floor?

Smith has not played in more than 51 games in a season since the 2010-’11 season. He also has not averaged in double figures scoring yet either but averaged a career-high 9.9 points in 2011-’12 and 9.7 points last season in 31 games. With Carmelo Anthony and other shooters on the floor like J.R. Smith and Hardaway, Jason Smith could find himself with plenty of open jumpers. We’ll have to see how much time he will get with Samuel Dalembert needed for rebounding and defending inside.

Shane Larkin –- Larkin is the wild card in the Tyson Chandler trade. The Knicks got Jose Calderon and Dalembert as two likely starters. But Larkin was selected 18th overall in 2013. The 5-11 point guard averaged just 2.8 points in 10 minutes a game, playing just 48 games as a rookie for the Mavericks.

We will have to see if Fisher, the rookie coach, will trust a young player like Larkin to give him some meaningful minutes. If Larkin breaks out and proves he is a first-round talent, Phil Jackson will look even more like a genius for that Chandler trade.

Cleanthony Early –- It’s unlikely the small forward will experience a breakout season as a rookie but the 6-8 forward is eager to show that he deserved to be picked higher than 34th overall. A breakout season would be a surprise.

Iman Shumpert –- Of all the breakout candidates, Shumpert is my choice for the Knick who needs to break out. Last season, Shumpert did not take the next step forward in his career, averaging just 6.7 points and shooting a career-low 37.8% from the field.

Perhaps this season, Shumpert will be healthier, stronger and feel more confident. His defense and athletic, attacking game will be key for Fisher. He has the potential to be the team’s best on-ball defender, an athletic wing player who can create offense from his defense.

Most of Jackson’s successful championship teams had an athletic defender who could be disruptive for opponents. Shumpert isn’t Scottie Pippen, obviously. But, the 6-5 guard can be a big asset if he plays to his strengths. A healthy Shumpert with a new coach and new system could equate to a breakout season.

If that happens, the Knicks could find themselves exceeding the expectations of many.

Question of the day: Which Knick do you think has to have a breakout season?

JVG: Shump needs to play to his 'strengths'

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
8:56
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ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy thinks Iman Shumpert can carve out a successful NBA career.

But Van Gundy thinks Shumpert needs to tweak his approach to do so.

“I thought he was on a good track. I thought he had a great rookie year. I think the injury set him back significantly. I think either role confusion or the lack of role acceptance has had him focusing too much on what he doesn’t do well versus maximizing what he does do well,” Van Gundy said in an interview on Anthony Donahue’s Internet radio show on The Knicks Blog.

Many thought Shumpert was primed for a breakout season last season. But he struggled to produce consistently on the offensive end.

Shumpert scored fewer than six points while playing at least 25 minutes in 19 games last season.

He continued to make strides on the defensive end, finishing first in defensive real plus-minus among shooting guards who averaged 25 minutes per game.

When asked about Shumpert in the interview with Donahue, Van Gundy offered a few suggestions for the fourth-year guard.

“He should be an every-night wing defender. He should be a high-energy offensive player who moves the ball selflessly, who when he gets his opportunities to attack long closeouts he attacks and creates plays at the rim for himself and his teammates,” Van Gundy told Donahue. “If he focuses on doing what he does best, he’ll have a nice career, but oftentimes that’s what derails younger players. Instead of narrowing what they do they’re always trying to expand what they do so they end up playing to their nonstrengths instead of playing to their strengths.”

JVG thinks Knicks will make playoffs: Van Gundy thinks the Knicks will be a playoff team this season in the competitive East.

“I thought Mike Woodson did a great job under trying circumstances,” the ESPN analyst said. “I think they’ll be a playoff team this year. I think they’ll have a good year. How far they go -- a lot is going to depend on matchups. Obviously the Eastern Conference has gone under some major changes.”

Van Gundy also thinks Carmelo Anthony should continue to play power forward.

“I think in today’s game he’s a 4 man. I think he’ll continue to be a 4 man as he gets older in his career too,” the former coach told Donahue. “I think he defends 4s better. I think he has advantages over 4s. You’ve got to pair him with the right defensive center because obviously you need basket protection.”

Van can’t wait for Knicks to bring back Ewing: Van Gundy coached Patrick Ewing so it makes sense that he’d be fiercely loyal to him.

“I just can’t wait for the Knicks to bring him home someday in some capacity ... he’s the best Knick ever. There’s a lot of great Knicks but as far as the best Knick of all time it’s Patrick Ewing," he told Donahue.

On the Knicks’ decision to trade Ewing toward the end of his career, Van Gundy said: “That was a horrible trade. If Patrick would have stayed the evolution to a more guard-oriented offense would have been inevitable ... it would have been fine.”

For Donahue's full interview with Van Gundy, click here.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Burning Q's: Best positional battle?

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
5:02
PM ET
With training camp less than one week away, we're examining some of the burning questions facing the New York Knicks.

Today's question: What's the most important position battle in camp?

Derek Fisher, Phil Jackson and the Knicks’ assistant coaches will have several lineup decisions to make during training camp.

Below, we take a brief look at some of the positional battles in training camp:

SportsNation

What is the most important position battle in camp?

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    7%
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    5%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,358)

Shooting guard: Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith should be candidates for the starting shooting guard position. Shumpert is the best defender among the three but struggled to produce consistently on offense last season.

You can make an argument that Hardaway Jr. could be the most consistent offensive player of the three this season. But he had a tough time on defense in his rookie season. It will be interesting to see how Fisher divides minutes.

Traditional positions are de-emphasized in the triangle, so these players can share the floor together, if Fisher chooses.

Center: Samuel Dalembert appears to be the leader going into camp. But he’ll have competition from Jason Smith, who can play both power forward and center, and Cole Aldrich.

Dalembert hasn’t played more than 23 minutes a game since 2010-11, so the play of Smith and Aldrich should be pivotal for the rim defense.

Power forward: Fisher and his staff can go a number of different ways at power forward. Carmelo Anthony thrived at the position the past two seasons, but has said in the past that he’d prefer to play small forward. If Fisher puts Anthony at small forward, he can start Amar’e Stoudemire at power forward.

Stoudemire and Anthony struggled to play together for much of Anthony’s Knicks tenure but thrived in the last 20 games of last season.

We should note here again: Traditional positions are de-emphasized in the triangle, so that may change the dynamic between Anthony and Stoudemire.

Backup point guard: Barring injury, Jose Calderon will start at point guard for the Knicks. But who will back him up? Will Fisher go with Pablo Prigioni, who has proven to be a strong 3-point shooter and ball distributor but has a tough time staying in front of quicker point guards?

Or will he go with the younger Shane Larkin, who, if you put stock in summer league play, can be a pesky defender? This is just another interesting positional battle to watch in training camp.

Question: Which positional battle do you think is most important in training camp? Also, who would you start at shooting guard, power forward and center? And what about backup point guard?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Burning Q's: Most vital bench player?

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
10:22
AM ET
With training camp one week away, we're examining the burning questions facing the New York Knicks.

Today's question: Who's the most important bench player?

This question is a little difficult to answer considering we don't know who Derek Fisher will start yet.

Will he start J.R. Smith or have Smith return to being the super sixth man again? Will Iman Shumpert start or be a critical sub for Fisher? How about Tim Hardaway Jr.?

If Smith were to come off the bench, he obviously would be the most important bench player. If Fisher wanted to bring Shumpert off the bench while starting Smith, then Shump would be the vital bench player who would have to provide critical defense and outside shooting.

My guess is that Fisher will start Shumpert and Smith at shooting guard and small forward to go with Jose Calderon, Carmelo Anthony and Samuel Dalembert. So operating under that assumption, my vote for most important bench player is Amar'e Stoudemire.

The reason? If Stoudemire can stay healthy, he gives the Knicks another dimension -- a big man who can score, rebound and block shots -- with All-Star experience. Yes, he may not be the same player he once was due to age and health. But entering his final season under contract, Stoudemire will be even more motivated than he already is, and that is saying quite a bit.

Last season, Stoudemire averaged 11.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 55.7 percent shooting in 22.6 minutes a game. He played in 65 games; it's unclear how many games he can play this season for Fisher.

The Knicks will have to monitor Stoudemire's health and keep him fresh if they can make the playoffs. But Stoudemire showed glimpses of what he can do when feeling good last season. In 14 games during March, Stoudemire averaged 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 56.9 percent shooting and 28.4 minutes.

While we don't expect Stoudemire to have those kind of numbers for this entire season, the Knicks can use a big man who can provide scoring punch to help Anthony. There will certainly be challenges ahead for Stoudemire. Besides trying to keep his knees healthy, he has to adapt his game to the triangle. Can he and will the Knicks allow him to play in back-to-backs?

But when feeling good, Stoudemire clearly gives the Knicks something they don't have much of, and that is a big man who can score in double figures -- sometimes with ease.

Fisher will have several key bench players, like Hardaway Jr., who will be looking to take another step forward and provide a spark with his outside shooting. Andrea Bargnani, who is also in a contract year, will give the Knicks some scoring if he can stay healthy.

Jason Smith might be a solid fit in the triangle with his ability to knock down the midrange jumper. Cleanthony Early could provide the Knicks with length and athleticism if he can earn Fisher's trust as a rookie.

Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw provide Fisher with two veteran forwards. Pablo Prigioni will give Fisher a savvy point guard who can shoot. And Shane Larkin could be a wild card if the Knicks can tap his first-round potential.

But a healthy Stoudemire can add a different dimension off the bench -- a former All-Star scoring big man who is highly motivated in a contract season.

Question: Who do you think is the Knicks' most important player coming off the bench?

Burning Q's: Who has most to prove?

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
10:00
AM ET
With training camp less than two weeks away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the New York Knicks.

Today’s question: Which player has the most to prove during training camp?

The Knicks are coming off of a horrific 37-win season. So you can make a strong case that each member of the organization enters training camp with something to prove.

Carmelo Anthony has to show that the can adapt to Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher's triangle offense.

Fisher has to show that he can transition from championship player to competent coach.

Jackson has to show that he can weather the maelstrom of the NBA season as team president.

But certain members of the organization -- due to circumstance, past performance or their contract -- have more to prove than others.

[+] EnlargeIman Shumpert
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsWill the triangle be good for Iman Shumpert?
One employee with a lot to prove entering camp is Iman Shumpert.

Around this time last year, many expected Shumpert to emerge as a consistent scorer and lock-down defender.

The 2011 first-round pick was coming off of a strong postseason, with big performances in the Knicks' series clinching win over Boston and series clinching loss to Indiana.

The next logical progression for Shumpert was to average double digits as a starter and continue to thrive as a perimeter defender.

But Shumpert entered training camp at less than 100 percent health (his surgically-repaired knee was an issue) and never seemed to get fully on track.

It's hard to know what exactly went wrong.

Shumpert suffered several nagging injuries throughout the season. He was also the subject of constant trade rumors.

And both seemed to impact his performance.

Shumpert posted career lows in points and assists per 36 minutes. His field goal and free-throw percentages were also career-lows, as was his PER, a per-minute measure of a player's performance.

Shumpert had some impressive offensive outbursts (the Texas trip in early January comes to mind). But he struggled to produce consistently. There were 19 games in which Shumpert played at least 25 minutes but scored fewer than six points.

One thing to note, though: Shumpert continued to defend at an elite level last season, at least according to one metric. Shumpert's defensive real plus-minus, which measures his impact through the prism of points allowed per 100 defensive possessions, was quite strong -- he ranked first among shooting guards who played at least 25 minutes per game (and fourth among all shooting guards).

Maybe this was one reason why Jackson made a point to praise Shumpert's defensive energy several times over the spring and summer.

But Jackson's praise may have served a duel purpose.

The Knicks continued to explore opportunities to trade Shumpert over the summer, according to league sources, so Jackson may have been trying to improve the league-wide perception of his player.

Still, we think Shumpert has an opportunity to make a strong impact this season in the triangle. Tall guards such as Ron Harper have thrived in the offense. Can Shumpert fill the same role?

Answers to that question will start to emerge during training camp and the preseason.

For what it's worth, Shumpert said a few weeks ago that he was looking forward to playing in the triangle because of the player and ball movement it engenders. He pointed out that it would be a better approach than last year, when he found himself "standing in the corner" in Mike Woodson's isolation-heavy offense.

Shumpert also said that he felt increased strength and comfort in his left leg -- the same leg that was surgically-repaired at the end of his rookie season.

But he didn't want to offer any predictions about how he would fare in the triangle. When asked if he thought he would thrive in the offense, Shumpert said only, "We'll find out."

We sure will. And the process will start in a couple weeks, in what could be a pivotal training camp for Iman Shumpert.

Question: Which Knick do you think has the most to prove in training camp? Iman Shumpert? J.R. Smith? Someone else?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2