Why NY Knicks Must See Star Potential in Iman Shumpert

Ciaran GowanContributor IIIJune 21, 2013

Apr 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA;  New York Knicks small forward Iman Shumpert (21) looks to pass during the first quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden.  Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

The New York Knicks don't have too many young players who are likely to develop in the future, but they have a potential star in guard Iman Shumpert.

After suffering an ACL tear in 2012, Shumpert came back to make major strides last season. It culminated in an impressive playoff performance, where he showed off not only his defense, but his much-improved offensive game as well.

Shumpert's stand-out performance came in Game 6 against the Boston Celtics, where he scored 17 points—including 3-of-3 from downtown—to lead the Knicks out of the first round.

His steal to end Boston's 20-0 run in that game was arguably the most important play of New York's entire season, as it was the turning point that stopped the series from going to seven, with the Celtics on a three-game win streak.

In total, Shumpert averaged only 9.8 points in the playoffs, but there were a lot of positives to take from his performance. As always, his defense was fantastic, but his 43 percent clip from beyond the arc is also a great sign for the future.

Having seen how Shumpert has developed over the course of his two seasons, New York should now view him as a foundational piece, and a major part of their future plans. This is someone who has All-Star potential and can help the Knicks improve from within, even if they don't have the cap space to add major talent.

Back in February, there were rumors of a potential trade sending Shump to the Phoenix Suns, but it's clear now how horrible a move that would have been for New York. You simply cannot trade away a player with such a high ceiling, especially when you already lack young talent.

According to the New York Post, Carmelo Anthony agrees with this assessment of Shumpert, and "projects him as a superstar" in a couple years' time.

Though it's hard to say exactly how good he'll be, there's definitely reason to believe Shumpert can turn into something special. He has future All-Defensive selection written all over him, and is starting to add strengths in other areas of his game.

Most importantly, Shumpert has the drive to succeed in the NBA, as evidenced by how quickly he came back from his ACL tear. That injury could have been a major hindrance in his development, but he took it as an opportunity to come back even stronger, making sure he improved his shooting stroke while he couldn't play full-contact basketball.

Shumpert ended up as one of the Knicks' most reliable three-point shooters by the end of the season, and should have an even more developed offensive game the next time we see him. A player as athletic as he is should have no trouble getting to the rim, especially now that he's gotten over any tentativeness that may have come from dealing with such a devastating injury.

In his exit interview, Shumpert sounded as motivated as anyone on the roster to improve his game, volunteering to take part in July's Summer League and vowing to become more consistent with his scoring and rebounding. This is his first real offseason as an NBA player—the lockout and his injury stopped him from having one the past two years—and it will be interesting to see how he takes it.

What Shumpert really needs to work on this summer is his mid-range game and ability to create his own shot, which will really help him to become a more dynamic force and a reliable scoring option every night. Working on his passing skills will also be important, as ESPN is reporting that he may spend time at point guard again next season.

Beyond the defensive skills and the emerging offensive game, Shumpert has the all-important intangibles. He idolized Jason Kidd growing up, and having had a chance to play with him for a year, has no doubt taken note of the things that made him such a great player.

On top of that, Shumpert has no shortage of confidence, and has proven to be a great teammate by creating KnicksTape, and leading the team's pregame huddles.

This is a guy that fans and players alike have grown to love over these past two seasons, and there's no doubt that the Knicks got a steal taking him with the 17th pick in the 2011 Draft. 

Considering how nice his contract is, and that he's one of the few players on the team likely to make significant improvements in the future, Shumpert isn't someone the Knicks should be looking to part ways with this offseason.

While he is one of their most valuable trade chips, the front office needs to keep in mind that it doesn't necessarily need to make a major trade to get better. If Shumpert can reach his potential, that will be enough to boost New York, and could dictate whether or not they make a serious run at the title over the next few years.