The New York Knicks have won six of their eight games in January, and it seems like they may have turned a corner. The key difference in the winning streak may just be the improved play of Iman Shumpert. The 23-year-old is heating up as the temperature outside cools down.
Since the New Year, Shumpert has seen a boost in his efficiency across the board. Head coach Mike Woodson has noticed, giving Shumpert extended minutes. With J.R. Smith untying opponent’s shoelaces, drawing fines, and generally acting immature, there has been an opportunity for Shumpert to step up and he has. In January, Shumpert is averaging 12 points on 51% shooting and averaging just under three 3-pointers made per game while shooting 50% from beyond the arc. You can’t argue with those numbers and it is easy to see why Shumpert is stealing more and more of J.R. Smith’s minutes each night.
Shumpert’s finest two games of January have come on the biggest occasions. In the Knicks win on the road at San Antonio, Shumpert netted six 3-pointers on his way to 27 crucial points. A few games later Shumpert connected on four more 3-pointers on his way to 12 points in a huge 102-92 win over the defending champion Miami Heat.
Another reason the Knicks have been successful of late is their team defense. Tyson Chandler, their best defender, has missed some time with an upper respiratory infection, but their defense has still been stingy. Shumpert has picked up the slack on his end, averaging two steals a night and pulling down over six boards per game. Shumpert is long and can guard multiple positions which is a huge asset to have in today’s NBA.
The NBA’s Eastern Conference is wide open due to poor play across the board. There are four solid teams in the East and that’s it. There is no reason to think that the Knicks would not be able to climb up to as high as the fifth seed if their improved play continues. Their recent hot streak has already elevated them back into the playoff race. Tyson Chandler is now healthy to will help Carmelo Anthony and a suddenly emerging Iman Shumpert. The Knicks certainly have the talent to put it together and make a run in the Eastern Conference.
Note: Article written by Sean Walters
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