With a funky flat top haircut, a couple of highlight dunks and some stellar defense under his belt, Iman Shumpert has become a player that many New York Knicks fans see in their team’s future. What I see is a guy who is still valued pretty well around the NBA, so now would be the last chance they would have to trade him.
The Knicks’ lack of assets has been widely documented, but rumors have surfaced that they are interested in either buying a draft pick or moving the 23-year-old Shumpert in exchange for a pick in the first round. Teams that are reportedly in the mix are the Oklahoma City Thunder and their 29th pick, the Miami Heat and their 26th pick and maybe the Phoenix Suns, which currently hold three first-round picks. Shumpert is valued as a late first-rounder, so these are all likely moves. All of this brings up the question, why trade some of the youth currently on the Knicks’ roster when they are trying to rebuild?
There are a couple of answers to that question. First, like I mentioned before, the Knicks do not have many assets. Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. are the only two players opposing teams are really interested in on the squad, not all of their questionable veterans. After Hardaway Jr. showed a lot of promise last year, he is something they covet, leaving Shumpert as the only man for the job of being traded away.
Secondly, Shumpert’s offensive production has decreased over the span of his three-year career. He averaged 9.5 points per game in his first season and shot 40.1 percent from the field while dishing out 2.8 assists and averaging 1.7 steals. That is not a bad start to your career, but now two years later all of those are still career highs. After missing almost half of the 2012-13 season recovering from a torn ACL, it wasn’t surprising some of his numbers went down, but he did manage to hit 40.2 percent of his three-point attempts. That was promising until he struggled with his shot this year, shooting just 37.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. It is safe to say that offensively Shumpert has regressed.
Now you might say Shumpert is a defensive specialist so the Knicks don’t need him to score. Well, now with Carmelo Anthony potentially not returning, Raymond Felton coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career and the unpredictable J.R. Smith, Shumpert will probably have to shoulder some of the burden and put the ball in the bucket more often. His shooting inconsistencies would make it a risky move to look to him for more offense. Back to the defense, the Knicks were 24th in the NBA in defensive efficiency last season. What is one “defensive specialist” in Shumpert going to do for a team that specializes in not playing defense? The total revamp of the Knicks’ defense isn’t going to revolve around one player but the team as a whole, making Shumpert’s value diminish even more.
Shumpert is young and has potential to grow into an explosive player. At times he has been a fan favorite in New York and many would probably like to see him stay, but I think the Knicks should move him before they completely lose all of his trade value. A guy like P.J. Hairston can bring the Knicks instant offense and continue to the learn the ropes on defense. We’ll see what the Knicks decide to do, but moving Shumpert could be their only way of acquiring a pick in this year’s NBA Draft.