Written by Anish Philip @dak0mish
Knicks fans overrate many of their players, especially those they draft. It’s typical of any hardcore fan of any team, but it seems amplified by the Knicks fan insatiable desire for a contender. Gallo was the next Bird depending who you spoke to. A solid player, but he won’t be starring in McDonalds commercials at any point.
The affliction occurred again with Iman Shumpert. Walsh’s final stamp on a franchise he pulled from fan hell like Dante, was selecting Shumpert with the 17th pick in the 2011 draft. Relatively unknown till the draft, the word potential was attached to his game. He couldn’t shoot, but he had NBA ready defense, great athleticism, and had above average handle for a two guard. With two non defenders in Anthony and Stoudemire, the pick was made.
Instantly a fan favorite, Shump fit in perfectly with any identity the Knicks had during the 11-12 season. Whether it was Linsanity, or Melo-mania, Iman complimented the lineup as a double figure scorer and lock down defender. He replaced Landry Fields in the starting lineup, and helped turn around the Knicks season from lottery to playoff team.
The Knicks had seemingly found their shooting guard of the future. Unfortunately, his season ended with a knee injury in the first round against Miami.
Returning in January ’12, Shump came into a very different situation. The Knicks were entrenched in the #2 slot in the East, had a vice on the Atlantic division, and a veteran squad with a two point guard lineup. Eventually, he found his way back as a starter, and brought a 40% 3pt clip that fit in nicely.
After what many believe was a disappointing playoff performance, it was evident that the Knicks needed a great two way player to compliment Melo to be considered a true contender. The logical choice was Shumpert. He’s young, and the Knicks witnessed first hand a defensive stopper turn top player in Paul George. So there was hope.
Then the 2013 season started. The losses piled up. Shumpert had not made the jump the Knicks and their fans had anticipated. Shump has been passive on offense, not taking open shots, creating for others, and displaying a lack of finishing ability. Worse than that, the defensive ability he hung his hat on had failed on many occasions. The rebounding and defensive motor are still there. The IQ hasn’t been. Shumpert has been consistently been beat on back cuts, taken poor angles on screen plays, and bailed out players in compromised positions by reaching in.
Scouts have noticed the average play, and expectations need to temper in Knicks nation. We’re not sending Shump out and getting Rondo back, no matter how much Carmelo wishes it. We couldn’t wrangle a good, young PF like Faried, who the Knicks passed on in the draft to select Shumpert. What is Iman’s true trade value? The Knicks are listening to offers, and what are realistic expectations Knicks nation can expect?
Shump fits a new mold in the NBA – the 3-and-D wing. Those players are ideal fits next to dominant point guards, and the NBA is in a golden age of floor generals. Almost every team has a good, if not great, point guard. Let’s compare Shump to other 3-and-D players of all ages to put his value into perspective:
Thabo Sefalosha: 7.3 ppg 4.6 rpg 1.7 spg FG 39% FT 90% 3PT 26%
Shane Battier: 5.1 ppg 2.4 rpg 0.6 spg FG% 44 FT% 78 3PT% 34
Arron Affalo: 22.5 ppg 4.7 rpg 4.5 apg .8 spg FG% 49% FT% 82% 3PT% 54%
Wesley Matthews: 15.9 ppg 5.0 rpg 1.8 apg 0.9 spg FG% 53% FT% 76% 3PT% 50%
Jimmy Butler: 11.2 ppg 4.8 rpg 1.7 apg 1.8 spg FG% 44% FT% 86% 3PT% 39%
Iman Shumpert: 8.2 ppg 4.8 rpg 2.5 apg 1.7 spg FG% 41% FT% 88% 3PT% 34%
Shump is on the wrong end of production from 3-and-D players. For some contenders, he might warrant a late 1st rd pick. He’d seem to be a great fit for OKC or MEM. To a rebuilding team, he’s another block in the foundation, not a foundation player. Drummond, Hayward, Monroe, Bledsoe all have the value to bring back a seasoned star that the Knicks need.
So if the the best Steve Mills can get is a rotation player, or a late round pick, is it worth it? I don’t know. What I do know is that sending a fan favorite for someone who won’t pay big dividends in the Knicks title chase won’t bode well with the Knicks fan base. If there’s one thing Knicks fans love to do more than overrate their draft picks, it’s lament their exit when the Knicks don’t produce playoff success.