Why Iman Shumpert Should Start


May 3, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; New York Knicks guard/forward Iman Shumpert (21) scores during the fourth quarter in game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. The New York Knicks won 88-80. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have loaded themselves up this year with guards. They have three point guards (though one may start at shooting guard) and three shooting guards. Though logic would dictate that it may be tough for all of these guards to get consistent playing time, one that should is Iman Shumpert.

Shumpert has come a long way since playing some horrible point guard under D’antoni as a rookie. Now many believe Shumpert has turned from a young prospect to a young NBA player on the path to realizing his potential.

As a shooter, Shumpert just needs to stay out of the paint until he makes some real improvement. He was a below average shooter in and around the paint. He didn’t take too many shots around the paint but the most common place he shot the ball overall, at the rim, he was 36/88 (41%) from there. The league average from that close is a little over 50%.

From three, however, Shumpert was very good last season. He was a 40% shooter in three of the five areas from beyond the arc including shooting 46% (18/39) from the right wing and 44% (14/32) from the left corner. He became a real weapon for the Knicks offense as the season waned last year and every Knicks fan remembers his barrage of threes late in the third quarter against the Pacers in game six. In a pick and roll based offense where spreading the floor is a must, Shumpert is about as good an option as any Knicks player to hang out from three and keep the paint from getting clogged.

As a defender, Shumpert wasn’t as good defending his position as he was the year before but that can be partially explained by both him coming back too early from ACL surgery (he didn’t look right for the first month or so) and playing small forward for the first time.

Shumpert’s defensive rating was a mediocre 106 last year but that was actually an improvement compared to the 108 defensive rating for the team when Shumpert wasn’t on the floor. He held opposing shooting guards to a 15.0 PER (average) and small forwards at 16.1 (slightly above average) last year. With a whole offseason to get his knee fully healthy and better prepare himself for guarding bigger players though, Shumpert should see his defense return to the high levels we all saw from him as a rookie.

If the Knicks continue to keep Anthony at the power forward (the most logical thing to do) then Shumpert’s competitors for that starting wing spot are Tim Hardaway Jr, JR Smith, and Metta World Peace. Assuming JR keeps his sixth man role that leaves Hardaway JR and MWP. Hardaway is not only a rookie but one that many have serious questions about flourishing in the NBA. Even if he gets real time this year it is highly unlikely he starts many games this season.

That leaves World Peace. MWP was a better shooter than Shumpert from all areas from the rim to long range two point jump shots. He is almost just as bad from 3-15 feet though, where neither is valid shooting option. From three though, Shumpert’s 40% 3P% is far superior to MWP’s 34% from three. As stated before, the Knicks wings needs to be snipers from three to allow the offense to work well and Shumpert is clearly the better option there.

MWP was slightly better last year at defending small forwards, holding them to a 15.0 PER but actually defended power forwards better (13.7 PER). When factoring in Shumpert’s health issues last year, the fact that he is still improving, and that MWP clearly on the decline it is not outlandish to assume Shumpert will be flat out better defender next year.

Outside of Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony, none of the Knicks should be a slam dunk to get a starting spot next year but when compared to the other options, Iman Shumpert looks to be the best option at one of the starting wings next year.