After a second consecutive win, the New York Knicks still face an uphill climb as they still sit at only 17-27.
Injuries and disappointing seasons from many players have this Knicks in a tough spot. They need to make several upgrades on the floor to contend this season and those upgrades are unlikely to come.
That brings me back to Iman Shumpert.
Shumpert was involved in trade rumors for most of the early season and if the Knicks falter down the stretch, we are going to have to look back and wonder if the Knicks didn’t make a big mistake by not dealing the third-year guard when they could.
Of course they can still move Shump by the February 20 trade deadline, but that will be tough due to the fact that he doesn’t have a lot of trade value at the moment. He won’t bring in the big piece the Knicks need.
A season in which you average only 7.2 points and put up a lousy 10.55 PER will all but bottom out a player’s trade value.
Of course you can make the case that Shump’s value was never really high around the league.
Knicks’ fans like to overvalue their own talent, which is natural, but three years into his NBA career, you have to wonder if the Knicks didn’t make a mistake holding onto him.
When the point guard was selected No. 17 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, Shumpert was met to some boo’s by the crowd, but quickly won Knicks’ fans over with some spirited play at the defensive en of the floor.
However usually by now players start to figure it out, but what the Knicks likely have in Shump is a solid role player and not a budding star that many Knicks fans like to build him up to be.
Looking back, dealing Shump while his value was semi high may have been the Knicks best move.
We learned early into his rookie season that Shumpert was not capable of being an NBA ppoint guard, something the Knicks were counting on as point guard just so happened to be the team’s weakest position heading into the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign. However given his size and athleticism and the fact that Shump can handle the ball better than most wings, it made perfect sense to move him offf the ball.
But while everyone thought Shump was turning into something special during his rookie season, his PER was still well below the league average at only 10.8. Most of his impact came at the defensive end of the floor, which was a bonus given how poorly this Knicks team defended.
Even after tearing his ACL, when Shumpert came back last season, hopes were high. However while he had some good moments, he once again was below NBA average as an all-around player.
Owning an 11.7 PER after two seasons puts him in the class of players such as Sasha Vujacic, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and C.J. Miles, who posted similar numbers over the course of their first two NBA seasons.
There is one bright spot though and that is Indiana’s Lance Stephenson, who posted an 11.8 PER his first two years in the NBA and is exploding in his fourth year, likely heading to the All-Star Game. There is one major difference between Shumpert and Stephenson though and that is the fact that the Pacers brought Stephenson along slowly. Shump was thrown right into the fire and should be experienced enough by now to make a bigger impact on games.
Heading into this season, Shumpert was expected to emerge as a legitimate third scoring option.
That hasn’t come close to happening and you have to wonder if it ever will.
Shumpert has scored in double figures in just 11 of the Knicks 44 games this season. Even more disturbing is the fact that he is shooting just 38 percent from the floor.
I have never been convinced that Shump could ever emerge as a solid offensive weapon. I just haven’t been drinking the same Kool-Aid as most Knicks fans.
What I do see is a guy who has shot under 40 percent from the floor in a combined 148 career NBA games and averages only 8.0 points per game. That’s a large sample size to judge.
You look back at players who have produced similar numbers to Shumpert through their first 150 game span and for the most part they turn out to become nothing more than role players.
Only one player really sticks out that had similar numbers through three seasons and made himself into an All-Star and that is Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson.
The difference is that Johnson’s growth began tight about now in Shumpert’s career. Johnson didn’t ht the 17 points per game mark or a 15 PER until his final season with Phoenix in 2004-05. He was 23, the same age as Shump is now and Johnson has a much diffferent skill set than Shumpert does.
Then there is the fact that Shumpert isn’t the same player defensively that he was in his rookie campaign. Yes, he can be a stopper on any given night, but he doesn’t always bring that to the table night in and night out like he did three years ago.
I’m by no means suggesting that there is no hope for Shump as there is plenty given his overall talent.
What I am suggesting is that Knicks fans give up on the pipe dream that Shumpert is going to become an NBA star. He is a solid NBA player, but nothing more. You will need a heck of an arugument to convinnce me otherwise.
I am worried though that Shumpert’s ceiling may not be much higher than what we have seen already. There is nothing about his production or lack there of that would suggest otherwise.
If that is the case, the Knicks may end up kicking themselves for not moving him when they had the chance.