John Minchillo/Associated Press/Associated Press
The pressures of starting might have been too much for Iman Shumpert.
Iman Shumpert, on the other hand, showed that he might not be ready for the starting lineup.
Usually when the Knicks mention a deficit of maturity, they're talking about J.R. Smith. Yet while Smith poked fun at himself in a Foot Locker commercial, it was Shumpert who looked like he needed to grow up.
Shump won the hearts of New York fans by being the very definition of hustle, but this season, instead of hotfooting around the hardwood, he hovered in the corner waiting on a three-point attempt. A full 21 percent of his shot attempts were corner threes.
Perhaps he secretly changed his name to Steve Novak, and we just didn't get the memo?
The fact that he essentially removed himself from the offense was problematic, especially because he wasn't hitting his shots. He attempted 100 more three-point shots this season than he did last season, but only made 25 more than the year before. His three-point field-goal percentage dropped from 40.2 percent in 2012-13 to 33.3 percent in 2013-14.
Shump was particularly bad in February as the trade deadline drew nearer. Rumors from Brian Windhorst of ESPN and others about the Knicks trading the hot prospect started flying early, and he seemed to let the scuttlebutt get into his head. In February Shumpert's field-goal percentage was 31.3 percent, his three-point percentage was 32 percent, and he didn't attempt a single free throw.
He got injured right before the deadline (which may have contributed to the fact that he wasn't traded after all). When he returned from his injury, he began coming off the bench...and played better.
His minutes were almost the same (26.7 as a starter before the injury, 26.5 off the bench after the injury). But his points and steals ticked up a bit, and his field-goal percentage improved greatly, leaping from 36.9 percent to 41.8 percent.
Despite his tremendous talent and competitive spirit, Shump may just be a more delicate flower than we realized. If he is going to wilt in the limelight, the Knicks might be better off keeping him in the second unit, where he can really shine.