NBA PM: Shumpert Ready for Rookie Year
It didn’t take Iman Shumpert long to realize the responsibilities that come with playing for the New York Knicks. Within hours of being drafted, Shumpert received dozens of interview requests and gained nearly 8,000 followers on Twitter. This was very different from his days as the under-the-radar point guard from Georgia Tech and his world would grow even bigger in the weeks that followed.
“It’s gotten pretty big,” Shumpert told HOOPSWORLD. “I’ll be in a random place and have people recognize me. I had it before, but now it’s sort of worldwide because everybody knows the Knicks. A lot of people in different cities might say, ‘What’s their mascot?’ But everybody knows the Knicks so it’s a little different. Everyone is asking me if I’ve talked to Chauncey, if I’ve talked to Amar’e or if I’ve talked to ‘Melo. It’s exciting. My world has gotten really big, but I’m trying to keep it close with the people that I was with before being drafted.”
That’s why he’s back at the famed IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. This is where he worked out in the months prior to the draft. It was in this gym that he made his steady ascent up draft boards and solidified himself as a first-round pick. He continues to work with head trainer Dan Barto, who is helping him prepare for his rookie season.
“I’m just making sure that I get repetitions up on my jump shot, clean up my decision making and find the spots on the floor that I like to get to in order to score,” Shumpert said. “I want to make myself a more efficient player by the time the season starts.”
Shumpert continues to work on his three-point shot, which is more important than ever now that he’ll be playing in New York under Mike D’Antoni.
“It’s feeling good,” Shumpert said. “I’ve been shooting at a high percentage and working with Dan Barto to make sure that I get a lot of reps. Even after our basketball workouts, I come back later on in the day to make sure I get extra reps up. I’m just getting adjusted to it being a couple of steps back. I’ve been making sure my legs are dead before shooting just to switch it up and get into that groove of shooting the ball from NBA three.”
There has been some discussion about whether Shumpert would play point guard or shooting guard in New York, but he doesn’t hesitate when asked which position he expects to play.
“I think I’ll be able to step in and play point guard,” Shumpert said. “I’ll be able to facilitate on offense and put pressure on other point guards using my size.”
He can’t wait to learn from his all of his new teammates and coaches, but he’s particularly excited to soak up information from Chauncey Billups.
“That’s like the original big guard,” Shumpert said with a smile. “Just being behind him and being able to learn from him should make me a hundred times better.”
At Georgia Tech, Shumpert was expected to take over games and dominate the ball on offense. He’s looking forward to playing with scorers like Anthony and Stoudemire because he’ll be able to step back and focus on other aspects of his game such as creating for others and playing lockdown defense.
“I think it’ll help me because all of the pressure won’t be on me,” Shumpert said. “I can just play my game. I’ll be taking shots that are there instead having to forcing shots. I can really just play free and play off of those guys. I think it’ll be a good adjustment for me.”
This summer, Shumpert has been having fun with his fans by uploading videos of him dunking onto YouTube and Twitter. He has completed a 360 windmill and a between the legs dunk among others. He threw down a behind the back dunk for HOOPSWORLD on Monday.
“I like to dunk and I like to get a couple of style points on it,” Shumpert said. “That’s just something I do for fun. In the game, I’m really just worried about getting the two points. I’ll get them with authority, but I’m worried about getting the points. But as the lockout continues, I’m just trying to have some fun and give the fans something to see. There’s not really any kind of dunk contests going on so if I can have fans tune in to my workouts and then afterward do a couple of dunks, if that brings smiles to people’s faces, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Shumpert’s hard work is necessary because he has high expectations for himself going forward. When asked what his next goals are, he rattles off several accomplishments he hopes to attain.
“Rookie of the year, All-Star game, dunk contest champion and all of that stuff,” Shumpert said. “I want to be the best.”
Indiana, Seattle Forming Travel Teams: This summer, basketball fans have been treated to a number of big games featuring the best players from regions like Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The Drew League, Goodman League and Melo League have made the lockout tolerable for many basketball fans and given a number of NBA stars something to do with their free time.
Now, it appears more players will have the opportunity to represent their hometown. Seattle and Indiana are among the regions working to put together their own travel teams featuring NBA players. Organizers are trying to assemble rosters and schedule games against the other regional teams.
The team from Indiana hasn’t released a roster, but there are a number of NBA players who were born in the area that could participate. Zach Randolph, Eric Gordon, George Hill, Courtney Lee, Jeff Teague, Mike Conley, Josh McRoberts, Jared Jeffries, Brad Miller and Gordon Hayward were all born in Indiana. Other NBA players such as Luke Harangody and Rodney Carney could also be eligible to play since they attended high school in the area.
Seattle has produced a number of NBA players, many of whom are close friends. Jamal Crawford is working to organize the team and he shouldn’t have any trouble finding participants. Jason Terry, Aaron Brooks, Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Martell Webster, Marvin Williams, Spencer Hawes, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Brian Scalabrine and Terrence Williams are among the players who would be eligible to play.
These travel teams are generating a lot of money and giving their homegrown talent a chance to showcase their game and represent their city. They have been very successful thus far, and even more teams will likely emerge in the coming weeks.
Clippers Hold Minicamp: The Los Angeles Clippers won’t let the lockout interrupt their development. Last week, the young team held a minicamp in Los Angeles that lasted four days and included ten players.
Blake Griffin and Mo Williams organized the workouts. Eric Gordon, Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Jordan, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie, and Brian Cook were among the players in attendance.
The players worked out for several hours each day and then spent time together off the court once the training sessions concluded. The team is improving their chemistry on and off the floor, and the workouts gave the two rookies, Thompkins and Leslie, an opportunity to meet their new teammates.
The Clippers are a tight-knit group and have high hopes for the upcoming season. After winning just 32 games last year, the group is determined to take the next step and compete for a playoff spot in the competitive Western Conference.
Griffin and Williams want to hold more workouts in the next few weeks, and there has even been some talk that the team will compete in Impact Basketball’s new league in Las Vegas.
NBA Chats: HOOPSWORLD’s newsline editor Mark Nugent will host his weekly NBA chat at 5 P.M. EST, so get your questions in now.