The New York Knicks have a hole on the depth chart at power forward and while they may not have addressed that immediate need with a proven NBA commodity, the club may have addressed it.
Knicks’ general manager Glen Grunwald has found it difficult to get a veteran big man to sign for the veteran’s minimum, but Grunwald did come to terms with free agent forward John Shurna to a partially guaranteed, one-year contract.
The 6’9″ Northwestern product led the Big Ten Conference in scoring a season ago, averaging 20 points per game, knocking down 44 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
Shurna’s deal is only partially guaranteed. If he’s on the Knicks roster on January 10, it becomes a fully guaranteed deal.
The Knicks have 16 players under contract heading into training camp, which starts Oct. 2. Thirteen of those 16 players have guaranteed deals. NBA rules say that teams can have 15 players on the opening-day roster. Shurna is the third player the team has signed to a partially guaranteed deal so far (Chris Smith, Chris Copeland).
Shurna is frequently compared to the Knicks’ Steve Novak because of his height and shooting ability. He went undrafted and struggled to get his shot off while playing for the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA summer league but excelled in some workouts, draining 36 of 40 from 3-point range for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Here’s a look at the Draft Express scouting report on Shurna and he sounds exactly like Novak.
Shurna has a quick, effortless release with little wasted motion that helps compensate for his somewhat unorthodox mechanics and low release point. Showing range out to the NBA line with some regularity already, nearly 40% of Shurna’s shot attempts are catch and shoot jump shots according to Synergy Sports Technology, and his 43% shooting on such attempts are indicative of how he could help spread the floor at the next level.
Inside the arc, Shurna is as crafty a player as you’ll find in the NCAA. He is not a dynamic threat off the dribble, and is not nearly as reliable a shooter off the bounce as he is off the catch, but his work ethic, patience, and feel for cutting to the rim make him a great fit in Northwestern’s system and earn him plenty of easy looks around the basket and trips to the line. Though such looks will be far more difficult to come by in the NBA, Shurna’s willingness to make easy plays and do exactly what his coaches ask of him could be plusses for him in a smaller offensive role.
On the defensive end, we’ve covered Shurna’s attributes in detail in the past. He’s as crafty and hard working as one would expect a player with his basketball IQ to be, but his lateral quickness is a limitation in staying in front of small forwards and his lack of strength is equally as problematic keeping power forwards away from the rim even in the college game. Additionally, he continues to rank as one of the worst rebounding power forwards in our database, which is likely to be even more of an issue in the NBA.
You can never have too much shooting, so Shurna is an attractive prospect, but given the depth on this team, it’s highly unlikely for him to stick around all season. Watching Shurna in college, he’s a player with talent and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him find his niche in the NBA as a shooter.
He is a guy that the Knicks could stash in the D-League for a year and revisit later on, but considering the Knicks have only one player under the age of 25 on their roster (Iman Shumpert), stockpiling a few young bodies for the future may not be such a bad idea.
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