Fields of ChangeFriday, January 06, 2012
We’re six games into the season and the Knicks are 2-4. Time to panic, right?
Well, maybe. Coach Mike D’Antoni said Thursday that he’s considering an early change to his starting lineup. Rookie combo guard Iman Shumpert is the candidate to enter, with Toney Douglas and Landry Fields the men on thin ice.
The reason this is so intriguing is also the primary reason the Knicks are struggling. D’Antoni encourages quick shots, bad shots, 3-pointers and apathy for defense. While it’s not a recipe for a title, it is a recipe for fantasy championships. Anyone starting in this system deserves a long, hard look. And Shumpert’s unique skill set fits right in.
At the 2011 draft combine, Shumpert stole the show as the most athletic player in the entire class. His vertical ranked first among all prospects and his 18 reps on the bench ranked third. He also measured in at 6’5/222 with point guard attributes. In other words, Shumpert is a special athlete that can play. He’s only appeared in two NBA games thanks to a minor knee sprain, but has averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 treys and 1.0 steals in just 26.0 minutes.
Even if Shumpert doesn’t start Friday, he should knock Fields out of the starting five shortly. After an eye-opening start to his career, Fields has leveled off to the second-round prospect everyone thought he would be out of Stanford. Shumpert is a must-own.
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NEWS OF THE DAY #2
It looks like the Warriors are finally going to do the right thing with Stephen Curry.
Curry has sprained his right ankle seven times in the last 15 months. He’s tried resting it and he’s had offseason surgery on it. Nothing is working. Now, Curry is going to put the ball in the doctor’s court. He’s out Friday and possibly beyond as the team commits to getting him back to 100 percent.
When Curry sat out a game last week, Ish Smith drew that start and posted 11 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and one 3-pointer. Brandon Rush will also benefit and Dorell Wright will get a chance to snap out of his funk via more shots.
NEWS OF THE DAY #3
We’ve seen what Dante Cunningham can do as Memphis’ starting power forward: 4.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.0 blocks, 0.0 steals, 25.0 percent shooting. Enter Marreese Speights.
Here’s what Grizz GM Chris Wallace had to say about acquiring Speights: "We're hoping this can be a perfect marriage. We need him, and he needs us."
While Speights’ defense, conditioning and basketball IQ leave a lot to be desired, he’s a big body that can score. The Grizz are in desperate need of that after losing Zach Randolph (knee) and Darrell Arthur (Achilles). Speights is a good bet to quickly ramp up to 24-28 minutes per game in his new home.
THURSDAY NIGHT GAME THOUGHTS
Jason Kidd sustained a back injury and didn’t return. Roddy Beaubois started the second half at point guard. … Gary Neal moved into the starting shooting guard role and made four 3-pointers while playing 20 minutes. As he gets into basketball shape, he’ll play more minutes and keep bombing. … Chuck Hayes sustained a dislocated shoulder. J.J. Hickson is the add here with Hayes reportedly out 2-3 weeks. … LeBron James (ankle) and Dwyane Wade (foot) both sat out. … With Paul Westphal canned, DeMarcus Cousins was back in the starting lineup. … Andrew Bynum’s campaign is starting to take shape as the Matthew Stafford of the NBA season. Owners that were scared get run over by those that are aggressive.
INJURY FAST BREAK: GUARDS
Derrick Rose (elbow) is questionable for Friday. … Ray Allen (flu) is questionable as well. … Deron Williams (oblique) is expected to play Friday. … MarShon Brooks (ankle) is questionable, but still worth a hold. … Trevor Ariza (groin) is going to miss a few more games. Yawn. … Rodney Stuckey (groin) is a game-time call. … Manu Ginobili’s (hand) official timetable has been set at six weeks. … Devin Harris (calf) practiced in full Thursday. So much for that Earl Watson idea.
INJURY FAST BREAK: FORWARDS AND CENTERS
Kris Humphries (shoulder) is expected to return Friday. … Andrew Bogut (personal) is expected to miss a few more games as well. Drew Gooden is your add here. … Nene (foot) is headed for a game-time call. Serious injury has been avoided.