NBA PM: Shumpert Expects Breakout Year
VIDEO OF THE DAY – Iman Shumpert
HOOPSWORLD catches up with New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert at the 2013 adidas Nations.Watch More Video Here
Every NBA season, there are a number of third-year players who take their game to the next level. Last year, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers and Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks were the latest examples of players who had a breakout season in year three of their NBA career. By the time players reach their third season in the league, they’ve grown accustomed to the NBA game and lifestyle, and they’re usually ready to start realizing their full potential.
Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks is getting ready to start his third year in the NBA, and he’s expecting a breakout season for himself. Now that he’s fully recovered from the ACL injury that limited him at times last year, he’s planning to return to the court better than ever.
“Going into this year, I know I got to make big improvements,” Shumpert told HOOPSWORLD at adidas Nations. “Last year was all about getting healthy. This year, I’m healthy and it’s all about making that big improvement in my game. That’s going to the offensive end, being in shape to play both sides of the floor hard and just focusing on getting to the basket and importance of knocking down the shot. I’m just trying to be more consistent this year.”
After a strong postseason in which he averaged 9.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals, Shumpert has been working hard this offseason to expand his game. Rather than going through the same all-encompassing workout that he had been doing in recent years, he has spent this summer focusing solely on the shots that he knows he’ll get in game situations playing alongside Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire among others.
“I’m working on the shots I know I’m going to get in the game,” Shumpert said. “I think last year I worked so much on knocking down shots from all these different angles. This year, I’m making sure that I have those same shots that I work on every single day that I know I’m going to get every single game and that’s knocking down those corner threes, those quick pull-ups in transition. I’m making sure I get those and get a ton of reps at those. It’s a longer work out at times, but I just know it’s going to pay off when the year starts.”
“I’m the young guy. I got to be able to play both sides of the floor. I have to be able to stretch the floor. When guys like Melo and Amar’e get those double teams, also J.R. Smith who is coming off an incredible year, when they get those double teams thrown at them or schemes that favor their side, I have to be that guy that can score, I have to be that guy that can make a play, be a playmaker. That’s all about me being more aggressive, having more confidence and understanding what I need to do in my third year.”
Last season, the Knicks went 54-28 to secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference. However, they were bounced in the Conference Semifinals by the Indiana Pacers. This was obviously disappointing for Shumpert and his teammates, but it’s something they’re hoping to build off of next year.
“We didn’t do our job last year,” Shumpert said of the Knicks. “We got knocked out of the second round, and we shouldn’t have. They have every right to criticize, do whatever they got to do, but we’re worried about our locker room. The Knicks are worrying about the Knicks, and we got to worry about improvement. We know what we got to do.
“We’re going to figure it out. We’re going to get this championship. We’re going to figure it out. I have confidence in not only in our coaching staff, the organization, but just being in that locker room, and the additions that we made this offseason I’m happy about. We can’t wait to get to work.”
Shumpert was by far the youngest player on the Knicks last season. Entering the 2013-14 season, he’ll have three younger teammates in Tim Hardaway Jr., C.J. Leslie and Jeremy Tyler. He’s excited to have some teammates his age, and he also thinks having a few more young players will be good for the Knicks.
“It’s going to be great, especially in practice,” Shumpert said. “I think in practice adding another young guy in [Tim Hardaway Jr.] and another young guy in C.J. Leslie, having those guys in practice is going to make a world of difference because a lot of times during the year everybody gets beat up. During the year, you need guys that can get those reps in and can still work. Those young guys, they’re going to learn when they get in there that there is no such thing as ‘tired’ for them. There’s no such thing as ‘tired’ for me. We just got to keep working, keep making each other better, whether that’s in the game or that’s in practice, we’re going to have to push. I can’t wait for training camp.”
Shumpert is setting the bar high for his third season, expecting significant improvement from an individual standpoint and contention from a team standpoint.
Knicks Add Beno Udrih
The New York Knicks’ backcourt got much deeper today with the addition of veteran point guard Beno Udrih. The 31-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Knicks worth the veteran’s minimum, a move that will give New York another talented playmaker.
Last season, Udrih played very well after being dealt to the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline. He averaged 10.2 points and 6.1 assists as a member of the Magic, and looked very good running Orlando’s offense.
Toward the end of the season, an injury to Jameer Nelson forced Udrih into Orlando’s first unit, and he looked like a starting-caliber point guard. In nine games as a starter, Udrih averaged an impressive 14.3 points, 8.1 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 40.7 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from three-point range.
Udrih didn’t see eye to eye with the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision makers during his two-year stint with the team, which is why he was critical of the franchise on several occasions after the trade.
However, as he showed in Orlando, Udrih can still impact games as a reserve. He could be a steal for the Knicks, especially at the minimum. Udrih could’ve signed for more money elsewhere, but he’s at the point in his career where he wants to play for a contender.
Blazers Make Mo Williams Signing Official
Williams will provide instant offense off of Portland’s bench, an area where the Blazers desperately needed to improve after having one of the weakest second units in the league last season.
In Portland, Williams will reunite with general manager Neil Olshey and head coach Terry Stotts. Williams and Olshey worked together as members of the Los Angeles Clippers organization, and Williams previously played for Stotts on the Milwaukee Bucks.
“As a player, Mo is an explosive scorer and willing facilitator,” Olshey said. “As a person, his character and professionalism will set an outstanding example for our young players on the court, in the locker room and in the Portland community.”
“I’m very excited to be back with Mo again,” Stotts said. “He adds versatility, scoring and veteran leadership to the team.”
Williams also considered offers from contenders like the Miami HEAT and Memphis Grizzlies, but neither team was able to offer more than a minimum contract. Last season, Williams averaged 12.9 points and 6.2 assists in 46 games with the Utah Jazz.