NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Knicks are doing just fine thus far without Iman Shumpert, winning their first three games of the season and getting off to their best start since the 1999-2000 season.

But they would certainly be a deeper, more talented and more athletic team with him than without him.

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The guard, who finished fifth in the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year voting, tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee in last year’s first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, ending his superb season prematurely.

And the 22-year-old has, smartly, decided to be wise about his recovery process. The rising star told the New York Post that he isn’t rushing his return, and expects to be back on the court in January at the earliest as opposed to December.

“What you all are saying is not what we’re going by,’’ Shumpert told the New York Post. “January, February is what we’re aiming for. I’m just trying to get healthy. When I get healthy, I’ll return to the court. I’m not going to come back and not be able to do the things I did last year and a little more. I want to come back and add something.’’

Although the sample size is small, it appears that the Knicks can afford to not rush their 2011 first-round pick. With Jason Kidd and Ronnie Brewer on the squad, New York is far deeper than it was last year at the guard position, meaning that general manager Glen Grunwald and head coach Mike Woodson can live without Shumpert until he’s fully ready to go.

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“It’s going to be a sight to see when we’re back at full strength,’’ Shumpert said. “It’s going to be nice when we’re all together. We’re deep in every position. I’m happy and excited.’’

The 2012 NBA All-Rookie First Team selection is a point guard by trade, but he will likely shift to shooting guard when he  returns to the floor. And while he’s forcing himself to be patient, he can’t help but admit that it’s difficult to watch his team and not be able to contribute.

“It hurts a little bit to be watching these guys,’’ Shumpert said. “I got myself and Amar’e (Stoudemire).We’re all getting ready. It could be as easy as December, but I’m not aiming at December. When I feel my knee’s right, that’s when I’m going to come back. January, February — that’s the target. If you can talk to my knee, I’d love you to write what it says.’’

The Georgia Tech alum averaged 9.5 points, 2.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 28.9 minutes per game last season.

“It’s a power thing now,’’ Shumpert said. “Getting my power back and my explosion. I can’t do a lot of things. I’m more restricted as far as cutting and doing all the things I’d normally do.”

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This team could be downright scary when Iman Shumpert returns to the floor. Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…