2011 NBA Draft Grades: NY Knicks Make Puzzling Pick with Iman Shumpert

Ethan NorofCorrespondent IJune 24, 2011

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 10:  Iman Shumpert #1 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets dribbles down the court during the second half of the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the first round of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 10, 2011 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

When the New York Knicks were on the clock at No. 17 in the 2011 NBA draft, there were some strong expectations that the club would pursue help along an undersized front line.

With Kenneth Faried, Chris Singleton and Donatas Motiejunas all still on the board, the Knicks made their fans cringe once again by selecting Georgia Tech's Iman Shumpert with their lone first-round pick.

Shumpert was one of the biggest risers in the draft class after his impressive showing of athleticism in the weeks leading up to the event, but he's a major question mark as to what he can really bring to the Knicks.

Despite a strong rookie campaign from 2010 second-round selection Landry Fields, New York felt that they needed to add depth at the shooting guard position. And while it's certainly true that the backcourt needs to be addressed, Shumpert was anything but the best prospect available at the time of his selection.

The Knicks could have really made this pick count, and the team was reportedly fairly divided in the drafting of the in-between guard. According to Newsday's Alan Hahn, head coach Mike D'Antoni cast the deciding vote that ultimately brought Shumpert to New York.

Shumpert reminds me a lot of former draft bust Gerald Green, who was taken one spot later (No. 18) back in 2005 by the Boston Celtics because of his intriguing athletic abilities.

Green played for four teams in five seasons before falling out of the league, and Shumpert will be looking to avoid that fate despite the obvious similarities in their games.

The team can't afford to devote major minutes to developing a draft pick at either forward position with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the team, so there will be more playing time available to Shumpert in the early going so he can hone his potential to the fullest extent.

Shumpert's standing vertical leap (36.5") is the third-highest to have ever been recorded at the combine, but that's not going to make him a better basketball player. He really needs to learn to play the game in a smarter fashion without settling so often, because if he lives and dies with his perimeter game, it's going to result in an unsuccessful rookie season for both he and the Knicks.

The team really needed to improve their defense on the wing and Shumpert will bring a presence on that end of the floor, but his offensive contributions are a major question mark heading into the 2011-12 campaign.

There's no doubt that there's a ton of upside with Shumpert, and that's exactly what catapulted him into the middle of the first round after originally being projected to go into the second.

For a team that needs production sooner rather than later, New York is hoping that Shumpert won't fade under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden and can fulfill his potential as the long-term answer for the team at the shooting guard spot.

With a plethora of dynamic talent on the board, the Knicks went for potential rater than production, and the club has to be hoping that their tremendous gamble pays off.