#17: Iman Shumpert
Sitting at #17, Knicks fans didn’t have grand expectations coming into the 2011 NBA draft. However, there were some prominent prospects still on the board in the mid-teens. In fact, when the Knicks were on the clock, Chris Singleton – arguably the draft’s premier defender – hadn’t yet been chosen. New Yorkers officially had their hopes up. Yet, when David Stern stepped up to the podium, he announced the name: “Iman Shumpert.”
While there may be some potential regret about passing over Singleton, the Knicks did land a player they had been targeting for some time in Shumpert. And Iman is a player that fills a few of the Knicks needs. For starters, Shumpert is a guard; he can play both on and off the ball. New York’s #1 priority was adding a starting center, but they also wanted to bring in a point guard. While not a true PG, Shumpert can handle the ball and proficiently facilitated the offense at Georgia Tech. He is more of a combo-guard, and will likely back up both Chauncey Billups and Landry Fields next season.
The flaws in Shumpert’s game exist on the offensive end. He shot under 40% from the field during his career at Georgia Tech, and converted just 28% of his three-point attempts during his junior season.
However, Shumpert’s strength is his defensive prowess. He has great size for a guard (he measured 6’5.5″ in shoes at the combine) and is incredibly athletic (maximum vertical at the combine was 42 inches). Per draftexpress.com: “Iman Shumpert stole the show at the combine, looking like clearly the most physically gifted player in this entire draft class. To start things off, his 36.5′ standing vertical leap was the highest since Nick Young posted the top mark in our entire historical database (39.5′) back in 2007.” Shumpert uses his long arms (6’9.5″ wingspan) to effectively deter would be penetrators. Iman averaged an impressive 2.7 steals during his final college campaign.
In addition, he is a great rebounder for guard – averaging neatly 6 boards a game for G-Tech last season.
Since the end of last season, the Knicks have purportedly committed to improving themselves on the defensive end of the floor. Shumpert will aid in that effort. In that respect, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.