The Knicks Are Getting Healthier

Short-handed lineup could get relief on Wednesday night

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    The first glimpse was good; Now it's time for a longer look at Shumpert.

    It's much too early to panic about the Knicks, but you can feel the concern mounting around and about the team. 

    They have looked awful in three of their first five games, performances that have exacerbated every fear people had about them entering the season. 

    The lack of a true point guard has left the offense stagnant at best and uninventive even when it generates points.

    Depth was the other big question mark, one that hasn't found an answer as the team appears to be too thin to compete over the long haul. The team is top heavy and, no matter how talented, there's only so far you can go riding just two or three players.

    Finally, there's the matter of the team having just a few minutes working together between the end of the lockout and the start of the regular season.

    Upheaval has been a constant at the Garden in recent years and the latest round has left the team with little feel for one another as they try to make the best of the two bad situations above.

    The only way that issue is going to resolve itself is through time and repetition, two things that have been further hampered by the injuries that have taken Amar'e Stoudemire, Jared Jeffries and the rookie Iman Shumpert out of the lineup.

    Trying to make the other pieces fit has not gone well for Mike D'Antoni, something best evidenced by the way the team's offense has misfired in the first two weeks of the season.

    It's a good thing, then, that the Knicks look like they are about to get some pieces back. Stoudemire and Shumpert are both game-time decisions for Wednesday night's game with the Bobcats, a development that should allow the Knicks to start finding their way toward becoming a better team.

    Suggestions that the offense was better without Stoudemire after the Kings win were made with tongues at least partially in cheek because the team obviously benefits from having a player who can score in as many ways as Stoudemire can score. The key now is figuring out a way to use Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony together in a way that maximizes both of their abilities.

    It seems like they've been together much longer, but it is important to remember that Anthony just showed up in New York last February. The two men haven't played together all that much and they haven't had so much as a training camp together to work out a partnership that will just have to develop on the court during this season.

    Shumpert needs time on the court just as badly, although calls for him to start over Landry Fields are both premature and ill-conceived.

    Shumpert's brief opening day cameo showed that he can be a scorer on the second unit, something a team relying on Billy Walker and Steve Novak for minutes badly needs this season.

    Fields still looks as lost as he did down the stretch last year, but that's not going to get better by changing his role once again. He's a good fit in the starting lineup because he doesn't need the ball to be effective while Shumpert is an ideal fit coming off the bench to score points when one or both of the Big Two are out of the game.

    We haven't had much chance to watch a Knick team constructed in this manner. Wednesday night should give us a look and, if all goes well, provide a blueprint the team can follow on their way out of the messy start to the season.

    And then we can all go back to waiting for Baron Davis to solve the point guard problem.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.