Start Shumpert

I'm officially on this bandwagon and here is my reasoning:

The Knicks admitted last night that they did not get into the Bobcats heads defensively early in the game and this led to their confidence balooning to the point where mediocre guard Gerald Henderson shoots 11-13 or some shit. That seems to me like it is what's happening, and it's not a good thing.

Amar'e Stoudemire is a guy that can make decent defensive plays with his athleticism from time to time. But in terms of smarts and doing the right thing in the moment from a team defense perspective, he's a little dopey. Same can be said of Carmelo, actually. Both these guys know that defense is important to a basketball team's fortunes. But they don't make particularly good decisions consistently on the defensive end.

We've been starting Fields with Carmelo and Amar'e since the Melo trade. The other two starters have fluctuated, but these three have been constant. I think Fields is a willing defender and is passable, but I would not call him a great or even very good defender. As an offensive player, he seems to have regressed since Melo joined the lineup and Felton left. Douglas' defense has not looked spectacular this season thus far but it still looks better than Fields' outt there. And while Douglas looks atrocious running the offense for the most part, he has hit some shots when he's had the opportunity to take good ones.

Now, Shumpert has, in the two games he's played, provided some headstrong offensive play out there. He has brashness and confidence, and he makes stuff happen. He keeps his dribble going. But he's also has shown he is a very good defender - better than Landry, I think we can surmise.

I think that with Amar'e and Carmelo in the starting lineup, you have to make sure that the other three guys are good defenders, and the best way to do that is to replace Landry with Shumpert in the starting lineup. But offensively, because Toney hasn't been good running the point, what you're really doing is starting Shump at PG, sliding Toney over to the 2, and pushing Landry to a place in the rotation where he can have some freedom to operate.

Now, some would say that you're losing your bench punch by moving Shump into the starting 5. I think this is overblown. The Knicks aren't going to be sitting one lineup and putting an entirely different one in - they'll be staggering it. And if the Knicks have a lead late in the 1st quarter, they won't necessarily need a burst of energy to knock their lethargic asses into gear. That's what you're looking to do - hold a lead while your starters rest. Not erase a deficit.

For example, if the Knicks have Shump handling the ball and initiating the offense from the outset, they can get into a better flow off the bat. Later in the first quarter, when Shump comes out, you can then have Melo start initiating the offense. With Melo in a passing role, I think Landry will find a way to be effective than he would when Melo's in a shooting role. You can then keep Landry in the game when Melo comes out, and slide him to the 3, where he can utilize his rebounding skills.

Another adjustment I think the Knicks should make is in how they use Jorts. Basically, I think the Knicks should avoid having Amar'e at the 5 and Carmelo at the 4. It's just too much of a defensive liability. I think that Carmelo should stay at the 3, and Jorts should exclusively play the 4. Basically you're starting Chandler at the 5 and Amar'e at the stretch 4. When you take Chandler out, you slide Amar'e to the 5 so he can beast on slower opponents and have Jorts as a stretch 4. When Chandler comes out of the game, the Knicks should immediately start working on pick and roll with Amar'e, with Jorts ready to take a three or rush in for an o-bound.

When Baron Davis comes back, you start him (he's been a pretty good defender in his career) and move Shump to be his backup. You can also perhaps use Shump a bit at the 3 when Carmelo's out of the game. My thought is that when Baron comes back, the guy that gets squeezed out of the rotation is Bill Walker.

This is all going to take some work, but I think starting the best defensive backcourt and taking the ball out of Toney's hands at the beginning of the game is the best way to put these guys in a position to control the game.

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