For the first half of the 2010-2011 NBA season, the New York Knicks got excited about second round draft rookie Landry Fields. That excitement faded away when the Knicks traded for SF Carmelo Anthony midway through the season and Fields started playing lost on the court.
Drafted 17th overall in the first round this season, Knicks rookie sensation Iman Shumpert is taking over the Garden and it’s fans by storm. Unlike Fields, Shumpert won’t regress but only progress, as he’s the straw that stirs the Knicks in the future.
Shumpert came out of Georgia Tech University as a junior. As a freshman, he averaged 10.4 points per game and made only 35 percent of his 3-point shots. He was also second in the ACC in steals. Shumpert got better to the point where he led the team in scoring last season as well as rebounding and assists, only the seventh player in ACC history to accomplish the feat. He was also selected to the second All-ACC team and a member of the conference All-Defensive team. This propelled scouts to persuade him to elect for the NBA Draft last season.
During his NBA Skills Combine, scouts were very impressed with his defensive ability and athleticism. Sixteen teams passed on the 21 year-old rookie, until the Knicks took him 17th overall. This was Donnie Walsh’s last draft pick as the general manager of the Knicks. Many fans were perplexed with this decision, as they have never heard of him before. I had to even convince my friends he was a steal, saying how he almost averaged a quadruple-double in a game earlier that year. Many were thinking if they haven’t heard of him before, how would he be effected by the New York media.
Up to this point of the season, you can see the impact Shumpert has on this team. During the Christmas Day game against the Boston Celtics, Shumpert was at some points leading the offense, which had a 16-point lead at halftime. It got scary once Shumpert went down with a sprained MCL because the Celtics took the lead once he left the game. Thank goodness for Carmelo Anthony, who carried the offense on the back to beat Boston. When Shumpert was out for 10 days, the Knicks offense looked more lost than a puppy in a new home. The Knicks are 4-1 when Shumpert plays, and 2-3 without him.
The main attribute Shumpert holds is his swagger. If you follow him on Twitter, you can see he’s a very out-going and funny guy who handles the media very accordingly. On the court, Knicks stars like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire have told the media the confidence Shumpert brings to the team and what they’re able to do with him. He’s third on the Rookie Ladder, averaging 12.7 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 steals per game, and is shooting 91 percent from the free throw line. His ability to find players under the rim with dynamic passes that goes with some stellar defense has some fans cheering for his name.
Shumpert is a prime example of what a young talent could do with superstars. The first one was Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo, who came out of nowhere to becoming an elite point guard by passing to the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. With people like Anthony, Stoudemire, and Chandler, Shumpert can’t go wrong with passing the ball or setting up screens with Chandler.
The New York Knicks will go as far as Iman Shumpert takes them this season, as well as PG Baron Davis, who’s still sitting out with back issues. Having Davis as the point guard and Shumpert as the shooting guard sounds scary for other teams. The best part is that Shumpert can run the point for the Knicks, which he is currently doing. Having a guard who can play both positions helps the Knicks guard issues as it is. I mean can you really trust Toney Douglas or Mike Bibby to run your offense?