Iman Shumpert Continues His Emergence for New York Knicks

Mike SalvatoreCorrespondent IIIMay 9, 2013

Every time J.R. Smith takes a shot, an angel loses its wings.

Times have been tough for the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year, as Smith has shot a ghastly 28 percent from the field since serving his one-game suspension against the Boston Celtics.

Smith’s troubles are only compounded by Carmelo Anthony’s recent shooting woes, and one could imagine it would be very difficult for the Knicks to compete with their top two scorers in a funk.

Fortunately for the Knicks, Anthony seemed to have regained his shooting touch as he shot 50 percent from the field in the Knicks' Game 2 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Additionally, the team is continuing to be fueled by the strong play of Iman Shumpert, who seems to be rounding into form at the perfect time when the Knicks most desperately need him.

Shumpert was the Knicks first-round draft pick in 2011 and had a very solid rookie campaign. He proved to be a solid fourth scoring option and immediately became one of the Knicks’ best defense players.

Unfortunately for Shumpert, he would go on to tear his ACL in the first round of the playoffs last year and missed a significant number of games this season as a result.

Shumpert worked extremely hard during his rehabilitation period and was able to return to the court much sooner than expected. When he returned, however, he was not quite the player that fans remembered from his rookie season.

It appeared that there was some hesitation and trepidation when he first returned to the court. Some of that can be attributed to rust and needing to get his “sea legs” back, but this was certainly not the same Iman Shumpert who proved to be such a valuable commodity last season.

As the season progressed, and the Knicks went on their thirteen-game winning streak, Shumpert appeared to slowly be rounding into shape, and as the playoffs began, he slowly began to assert himself in both series against the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.

In addition to his sterling defense, Shumpert began making clutch threes and taking on much more of a scoring burden. Per, Shumpert is averaging 10 points per game to go along with over six rebounds per game in the playoffs.

His impact on both ends of the court have been invaluable for the Knicks, with Smith continuing to shoot his way out of his slump and the offensive liabilities that are Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin.

Iman Shumpert might not be the best player on the Knicks, but as these playoffs continue, he may prove to be their most important player.