Iman Shumpert: The Missing Link to an Eastern Conference Championship?

Karthik TadisinaSenior Writer IDecember 23, 2011

Iman Shumpert.
Iman Shumpert.

The New York Knicks selected guard Iman Shumpert with the No. 17 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Shumpert spent three years playing college basketball at Georgia Tech, where he was known for being a pretty good defender. Known for his defensive prowess and athletic ability, Shumpert is a great fit with the New York Knicks, who are looking to do big things this season with Carmelo Anthony and center Tyson Chandler on board for the entire year.

Standing at 6'6", weighing 222 pounds, along with an NBA combine best vertical leap of 42 inches, Shumpert has all of the physical gifts to become one of the next young stars in the NBA. The Knicks have been lacking a defensive presence since head coach Mike D’Antoni came aboard, but this rookie could change things as soon as this season for the Knicks.

D’Antoni can look to build off of Shumpert as well as the newly acquired Chandler, a defensive big man who helped bring the Mavs their first championship, to help bring a defensive edge to a Knicks team that gave up an average of 106 points per game last season, third worst in the league.

Shumpert is a combo guard that is likely to see time at both the point and shooting guard positions in New York this year. Playing him alongside Anthony could provide the Knicks with a very athletic backcourt, which could ultimately become their competitive advantage to make a deep playoff run.

Shumpert guarding the likes of a Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Dwyane Wade or a Rajon Rondo. Shumpert himself feels like he can pressure and guard some of the best point guards in the East, along with the 2 and 3 positions, something necessary with the power of the East.

With his leaping ability, defensive prowess, shot-making in the air and big athletic body being his strengths, Shumpert has been criticized for his shot selection, clock management and poor shooting percentages, all criticisms that he has admitted to and is working to improve, especially given the expectation of him playing the point guard position at times.

Shumpert has yet to play in an actual NBA regular season game, but based on his preseason stats (11.5 PTS, 2.5 REB, 2 STL, 2.5 ASST in about two quarters of play), his background and his potential on both sides of the ball, he possesses the skills to become an elite NBA guard.

His ability to play at both positions (point guard and shooting guard) on the offensive or defensive side makes him a tremendous weapon for the Knicks this year. As the season goes along, Shumpert may be taking minutes at the point guard position over veterans Mike Bibby and Baron Davis. Unknown the day he was drafted to many, let’s see if Spike Lee still does not know who Shumpert is by the Knicks' 10th game of the season.