There’s no doubt Iman Shumpert is a big part of the New York Knicks and their plans for the immediate and long term future, but they’re not quite sure in what role, and if it’ll be as a starter or coming off the bench. There’s a chance, that through the Las Vegas Summer League, they’ll discover his true and best value comes from playing point guard.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks are going to try and go in that direction this summer in Vegas. Shumpert has played a bit of point guard during his first season in the league, but only by position, and wasn’t in charge of actually facilitating play.
Defensively, there’s no doubt he’s athletic enough to do well in the position. He played shooting guard and small forward (which didn’t make him very happy) last season, struggling to come back from injury. But for all the adoration for some of his talents, the Knicks aren’t quite sure what to do with him, not finding anything specific he excels in, especially when it comes to the offensive end.
The Knicks did sign Pablo Prigioni for three more years, giving them a more “natural” backup point guard to Raymond Felton, but the problem isn’t with the Argentine (unless his age becomes an issue sooner than expected), but with Shumpert.
He shot only 39.6% from the field last season and 40.1% during his rookie year. He shoots well from beyond the arc, but it’s too soon to tell (didn’t do it that well during his rookie season) if it’s a one-season thing or a consistent part of his development. In short, for a shooting guard, the Knicks would have liked to see more than 8.3 points in 22.1 minutes per game, averaging 11 points per game per 36 minutes.
It’s hard standing out on a team with both J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony, let alone get enough shots. But maybe Shumpert simply needs a different role to get him more touches on the ball, and tunnel his talents in a more efficient and successful direction, before all the hype from his rookie season disappears.