When learning the news of Rajon Rondo and his torn ACL, it's impossible for Knicks fans not to think back to the recently returned Iman Shumpert and his journey back to the hardwood from an ACL injury of his own.
After tearing his ACL against the Miami Heat in the midst of last season's playoffs, the demoralizing injury kept Shumpert off the court through 2012 and into 2013. An ever determined young gun, the guard's road back of course included surgery, ongoing rehab, and time in practice to get his conditioning right.
By scoring 8 points in his debut, a start against the Pistons, Shumpert provided the Knicks with the spark necessary to come away with an overseas victory in London on January 17th.
To date, Shumpert has appeared in a total of four games this season. The Knicks have gone 2-2, and as Shumpert aims to find his consistency, his team has looked to continue its winning ways as well.
Both have struggled to do so. The Knicks have failed to display that type of dominant effort offensively. Without Raymond Felton (who returned in New York's loss to the 76ers on Saturday night), the team's rhythm on that side of the floor has been lacking.
And speaking of lacking, much of Shumpert's special abilities have been absent as well. There's no doubt that the Knicks' morale has gone up due to the young gun's return. He's one of the more exciting players to watch and be around, both for fans and teammates alike. But just as the likes of Amar'e Stoudemire and even Felton have shown rust upon their own respective recent returns to the NBA hardwood, so has Shumpert.
Statistics show that the Georgia Tech product is one of the Knicks' most frequent on-ball defenders, especially when it comes to opposing teams' top offensive weapons. Shumpert is utterly fearless, and as he continues his career, that's undoubtedly what he'll become known for. He's a stopper.
That said, his offense needs to be steady enough to not bring the team down, and upon his return this season, that hasn't been the case. Shumpert's jump-shot has been flat, but what's more, his inability to move without the ball and lack of explosiveness has certainly caused the team's offense to take a hit.
Shumpert is by no means the sole recent why the Knicks' offense has been struggling as of late. There's a bevy of different factors. That said, just because New York's starting five isn't quite set in stone at this point, the young gun shouldn't be thrust into the first unit just yet. He isn't ready.
Much like Stoudemire was and still is being, Shumpert needs to eased back in a lot slower than he has been. His visible rust proves that. The 22 year old needs to be resigned to that 15-20 minute limit until that pep into his step eventually returns.
Such a limit wouldn't and/or shouldn't be a reason to panic, rather just the way it should be. The Knicks' ultimate goal is to win the big and meaningful games in spring and summer time, not winter. Rushing Shumpert back (no matter how anxious everyone might be for him to be a regular part of the rotation) will only hurt the team's ability to do so later on.
There's no doubt Shumpert will be a key contributor to the Knicks' potential playoff run. Now just isn't the time to put the pressure on him to succeed at the same level.