I remember when the New York Knicks drafted Iman Shumpert.
My eyes were fixed on Kenneth Faried as New York’s 17th overall selection in the 2011 Draft drew closer and closer. But when the time came for the Knicks to pick, Shumpert’s name was announced as fans booed the mostly-unknown guard from Georgia Tech.
Like the Knicks fans in attendance, I didn’t like the pick—I didn’t even know who this guy was. Boy, were we wrong.
Today, Shumpert is one of the best young players in the game. He’s averaged about eight points, three rebounds and two assists in a season-and-a-half in New York (he played in just 45 games last season after tearing his ACL in the 2011-12 postseason), and will be a huge factor in the Knicks’ 2013-14 title chase.
Shumpert, who will apparently be battling J.R. Smith for the starting shooting guard spot, has dominated in the preseason. He hit every single shot he attempted (7-7, 18 points) in New York’s matchup against the Boston Celtics, and said afterwards that he’s “got a chip on his shoulder” this season.
Heart, confidence, swagger, athleticism, lockdown defense, a noticeably improved jumper—Shump’s got everything needed in the prototypical 2-guard. And in 2014, the Knicks are going to rely on him to play up to his All-Star potential.
Carmelo Anthony is a bona fide star—but after that, the Knicks have a lot of question marks. Amar’e Stoudeimire’s health, how Andrea Bargnani will fit in, what Tim Hardaway Jr.’s role will be and Smith’s consistency are all up in the air.
With all kinds of uncertainty floating around the team, Shumpert is poised to become the Knicks’ second best player. He should finish the season averaging close to 14 points, five boards and three assists a night while continuing to emerge as one of the league’s best defenders.
Shumpert’s potential is endless, and he has the capability to become one of the NBA’s elite shooting guards in the near future.
For the Knicks to have a real shot at a championship in 2014, they’ll need Shumpert to begin blossoming into the star that he’s capable of becoming.
And based on everything he’s displayed early this season, Shump’s ready for the challenge.