Who is more talented and more likely to bloom into a force in the NBA is up for debate, however.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each athlete, and speculate which player has a brighter future.
Over 23.1 minutes per game, Hardaway Jr. scored 10.2 points per game and shot 42.8 and 36.3 percent from the field and behind the arc, respectively. In the 26.5 MPG Shumpert played, he scored 6.7 PPG and shot 37.8 and 33.3 from the field and three-point line, respectively.
Despite similar stat lines, Hardaway Jr. was by and far the more reliable scorer.
Carmelo Anthony spoke favorably about Hardaway Jr. back in February, via Marc Berman of the New York Post,
I saw him play a game at summer league and got a chance to work out with him at summer league. I saw something. I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be. He’s turned out to be a guy who’ll be very good in this league. He’s smart, very confident. He came to the league already knowing the game a lot better than other guys. His sky’s the limit. I’m looking forward to helping him out and talking to him.
Due to New York's offensive woes, Hardaway Jr. was thrust into a role larger than the rookie was capable of, and therefore, he wasn't as efficient as one would like, but he only went scoreless in four games in comparison to the seven outings in which Shump failed to score.
Although Shumpert has excellent athleticism and a good first step, he's a poor slasher and doesn't get to the basket and finish like he should, especially in transition.
Iman Shumpert is only scoring 39% of his fast-break opportunities this season, per Synergy Sports. He shot better than that from 3 last year— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) February 13, 2014
Those flaws ought to be addressed in the offseason, but if they aren't, they will be the crux of future arguments discrediting Shumpert's offensive ability.
Regardless of his form and release, which are far from broken, he's been a sporadic shooter on the floor as shown by the adjacent shot chart, via Vorped.com:
In comparison, Hardaway Jr.'s shot chart is below, via Vorped.com, and it displays his ability to get into the paint and his consistency from mid-range.
Of rookie guards with at least 100 attempts at the rim this yr, Tim Hardaway, Jr. leads the league at 65.5%. Has been great as a finisher.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) March 15, 2014
Hardaway Jr. has been the better offensive player thus far, and with more experience and structure in NY's offense, he will be a more effective scorer than Shumpert.
Without much doubt, Shump is the better defender between the two. Although Shumpert gambles at times and it backfires on him, he's used his athleticism and lateral movement effectively and has been a consistent pest.
The same can't be said about Hardaway Jr. just yet.
Despite his effort, which was admirable, Hardaway Jr. managed to be a liability on the defensive end at times—mostly due to inexperience. As he grows more familiar with his opponents and the NBA game, he should become a decent defender.
He may never be the kind of guy that could lock down pretty much anyone like Shump could potentially be, but with a few extra pounds of muscle, he won't be as inefficient as he was his rookie year.
Also found it interesting that, according to Synergy Sports, Tim Hardaway, Jr. runs into the screener on pick and rolls 46% of the time.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) February 18, 2014
Shump gets the edge defensively, and with time, he should maintain it, although Hardaway Jr. won't be far behind.
From watching Hardaway Jr.'s body language on the court and his ability to keep fighting, even if it wasn't his night, it became obvious that he was more confident than Shumpert.
That might be the result of being the son of a former NBA All-Star, however.
Tim Hardaway Sr. said the following in February, via Marc Berman of the New York Post, "A lot of people say I’m biased. That’s my son. I know basketball. I played and evaluated it all my life. I said this all along. … I see a lot of my competitiveness in him. He wants to win."
Hardaway Jr. rarely sulked or looked lost on the court, and he had the kind of swagger an athlete needs in order to join the league's upper echelon of players.
When he struggled with his shot early in the season, Hardaway Jr. didn't question himself:
.@T_HardJR on shooting struggles: "Melo told me to keep my head up. I know I'm a good shooter."— NBA New York Knicks (@nyknicks) November 4, 2013
An anonymous scout said the following about Shumpert back in November, via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, "I think he could be an elite defender. He's got the range, he's got the wingspan and the quickness. He's got to want to do it, though. He's got to commit to it and I think at times he wavers on it."
That uncertainty and wavering is what has limited Shump and led one to question his confidence on the court. With a full offseason to develop, and a coach and organization that believe in him instead of attempting to trade him each day, he should develop more confidence and reach consistency on both ends of the floor.
Since confidence is an issue, however, it limits his upside. Unlike Hardaway Jr., who knows he could become an All-Star in the NBA, Shumpert might be shortchanging himself by entertaining his struggles instead of transcending them.
At the current moment it's close, but Hardaway Jr. has more upside than Shumpert and is more likely to reach his full potential. The combination of confidence and range sets him up to be a premier contributor for years to come.
While Shumpert should develop into one of the league's best man-to-man defenders, his offense may never reach the level some had anticipated upon his arrival to the NBA, and therefore, his future isn't as bright.
Shump needs to trust himself more and be aggressive and confident on the offensive end if he wants his upside to exceed Hardaway Jr.'s.