Tim Hardaway Jr. vs. Iman Shumpert: Who should start at the 2?


With the New York Knicks’ roster pretty much set, one of the major questions this season is, who will be the starting shooting guard this season?

Knicks’ management and coaches will have to decide, do you start Tim Hardaway Jr., or Iman Shumpert?

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Last year the Knicks started off slow offensively in almost every game.  Hardaway’s offensive game will take pressure off Carmelo Anthony, as he is capable of hitting the three, as well as drive to the basket.  With Anthony returning to the three position, it leads to an exciting competition this preseason. With Hardaway’s recent play in Vegas, it is obvious this young man was the steal in the 2013 draft and has future All-Star potential. Yes, he is that good.

If Hardaway starts, where does that leave Shumpert?

Since he was drafted two years ago by the Knicks, there’s been plenty of ups and downs surrounding the Georgia Tech product. Throughout the league he is recognized as a defensive-stopper, someone who isn’t afraid of matching up against some of the league’s most elite scorers. Last year, after his second knee surgery, he struggled to find the shooting stroke or rhythm he displayed in 2012.

Last season Shumpert was in and out of coach Mike Woodson‘s doghouse, as well as constantly being mentioned in almost every trade rumor.  Shumpert, in spite of his struggles last season, always plays with a certain defensive intensity that isn’t often matched by many others.  Last season he seemed to excel coming off the bench at seasons end.  He seemed to have fun again coming off the bench with no expectations.  Last season Shumpert also played with a point guard who never looked in his direction.  Often he looked lost or frustrated standing in the corner.  Last season he was misused and abused, by Woodson and his system.

At season’s end, while coming off the bench, without the pressure of starting, Shumpert showed the tenaciousness and swagger he seemed to have misplaced during most of the season.  He plays better at the two position, and with the additions of Cleanthony Early, Travis Outlaw and Quincy Acy, there is no reason for him to play at the three position. If Hardaway starts, it would take early season pressure off Shumpert and would thus benefit both players.

As Hardaway’s stock rose with each game last season, Shumpert stock declined. He was erratic, and often looked lost on the offensive end of the court.  Most insiders contributed this to the team’s lack of offensive sets, compounded by a coaching staff that was not supportive of his game. It will be interesting to see how coach Derek Fisher utilizes Shumpert moving forward.

How Fisher chooses to mix and match his lineups this season remains to be seen. The triangle is a good offense for a player like Shumpert, who is a better spot up shooter, than shot creator.  Hardaway on the other hand is an offensive weapon.  Like most scorers he can be streaky, but with him on the court it would be hard for opposing defenses to drop off both him and Jose Calderon to double team Anthony.

The one thing I am sure of, is Hardaway wants his chance and will fight for his minutes. Shumpert will have to fight for his minutes coming into training camp. But perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing, competition will bring out the best in both players.

With training camp around the corner, let the games begin.

Dr. Eric Kaplan is a Bestselling author www.5minutemotivator.com

Follow him on Twitter @drekaplan