When the Knicks used the 17th pick of the 2011 draft to select Iman Shumpert, many experts and analysts, including ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, blasted outgoing general manager Donnie Walsh for passing over more proven commodities.
Once realizing they actually passed up Chris Singleton, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward deemed capable of defending at least three positions on the floor, who finished his last two seasons at Florida State on the All-Defensive team, forgive me for believing the Knicks actually lived up to their middle name.
As it turns out, the Knicks did well in drafting the former Georgia Tech product. He had a strong rookie season, posting 9.5 points, 3.2 rebound, 2.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game in an average of 28.9 minutes per night. His performance earned him All-Rookie First-Team honors following the season.
However, in the 2012 playoffs, he tore his ACL against the Miami Heat and missed the beginning of the 2012-13 season. He returned to the team in January 2013 and managed to play in 45 games—albeit receiving limited minutes (22.1 per game)—before regaining his form in the playoffs.
In 12 games during the 2013 playoffs, he averaged 9.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game in more than 28 minutes of action per night. And who can forget his highlight-reel putback slam against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden?
That play alone proved that Shumpert regained his form, and he seems like the Shumpert of old to begin the 2013-14 season. He has been more aggressive on both offense and defense and has earned a starting spot in Mike Woodson’s rotation.
Shumpert has continued to improve, and with the uncertainty surrounding Carmelo Anthony’s free agency, he is the future of the New York Knicks.