Iman Shumpert is one of the few good memories the New York Knicks fans have of the otherwise dismal 2013-14 season. The 23-year-old guard was selected by the team in the 2011 NBA Draft and has not disappointed so far. This season in particular was tremendous for him on the court. So tremendous indeed that he was one of the few realistic bargaining chips the Knicks had for a possible trade earlier this year. Much speculation went around before the deadline, but he ultimately stayed in New York. After suffering from injuries (torn ACL and meniscus), Shumpert made a full recovery and was part of the revived Knicks team that made a strong push to get to the playoffs. Let’s take a look at a few aspects of his play and see if he should have a spot on the team for the 2014-15 season.
Shumpert is the most athletic player on the team. Fast and strong, this past season he used his abilities to defend like a pro and create some pretty highlights with put-back dunks and alley-oop catches. Also, it seems he never gets tired!
Defensively he is a beast. On a team so weak defensively, Shumpert brought a glimpse of hope to Knicks fans. Night in and night out fans could expect steals and great perimeter defense from him. Even playing under Mike Woodson’s flawed defensive system of constant switches, Shump managed to make a difference on the defensive end of the floor. Always energetic and jumping his way to denying and contesting shots, he was one of the reasons the Knicks managed to hold leads and get close wins.
Shump has to improve on the offensive end, though. Yes, he can jump, dunk, run the floor and defend like anyone else on the team while also having great handles – the Paul Pierce ankle breaker was beautiful — but his jump shot needs work. He made some clutch threes during the season and managed to stay hot for a few games, attacking the rim and shooting from the elbow, but it wasn’t nearly as consistent as it should be to pose a serious threat to opponent’s defense on a regular basis. If he works on his jump shot and his three-pointers he will be the ideal guard for Phil Jackson’s system basketball. Jackson has a thing for big guards.
All in all, the third-year player has shown he is probably going to have a spot on the team. That’s easy to say, considering Shump managed to attract the attention of President Jackson, who praised his defensive efforts and labeled it as the benchmark for what the Knicks defense should be every game.