By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
With Iman Shumpert back and Raymond Felton getting closer, Mike Woodson is going to have some interesting choices to make regarding his starting lineup.
Shumpert started Thursday because Woodson didn't want the second-year guard to tighten up after warmups.
Iman Shumpert made his season debut Thursday in London.
Many believe Shumpert will eventually start for the Knicks anyway. But what happens to Jason Kidd when Felton comes back? Does he go to the bench?
What about Amar'e Stoudemire? Will he eventually return to the starting lineup?
Below, we present a few potential starting fives for the Knicks, once everyone is healthy.
Felton, Kidd, Shumpert, Anthony, Chandler: Assuming Woodson wants J.R. Smith to continue coming off the bench, this is the best starting five in my opinion, although that comes with a caveat*. This lineup allows Carmelo Anthony to stay at power forward, where he can take advantage of mismatches. And it keeps a two-point-guard configuration on the floor, which the Knicks have had success with.
(*The Knicks, though, would benefit from bringing Kidd off the bench after Felton gets back. Kidd has been playing too many minutes with Felton out, and bringing him off the bench would allow Woodson to keep him fresh for late in the regular season and the postseason.)
Felton, Shumpert, Smith, Anthony, Chandler: This is the Knicks' best five-man unit, in my opinion. It's unlikely to be the team's starting five, though. Woodson likes to have Smith's scoring off the bench. Though it's worth noting that, of the Knicks' five-man lineups that have played at least 50 minutes together, two of the top three in terms of projected win percentage have Smith at shooting guard, according to 82games.com. This is the lineup that will likely be finishing games once everyone is healthy.
Felton, Shumpert, Anthony, Stoudemire, Chandler: This lineup inserts Stoudemire back into the starting five. The issue here, as has been discussed, is the spacing between Stoudemire and Anthony -- and, more importantly, Stoudemire and Chandler. On Thursday, Stoudemire looked extremely strong off the bench, and it appears he'll have continued success taking advantage of overmatched defenders in opponents' second units. So I think he should continue to come off the bench.