Iman Shumpert’s 2013-2014 was among the most disappointing in basketball. As trade rumors swirled around him from last season’s outset, the two-way prowess that made Shumpert one of the league’s most promising young wings the year before all but vanished entirely. He notched career lows in points per game and field goal percentage, dipped from 40.2 percent to 33.3 percent from beyond the arc, and let his uncertain status as a member of the New York Knicks affect his effort on the other end of the floor, too.
So 2014-2015 is a crossroads for Shumpert. He not only has the chance to emerge as a cog for the re-built Knicks, but is also playing for his first non-rookie contract. How Shumpert performs this season will dictate his market as a restricted free agent next summer, and it’s easy to see things playing out on either extreme of the spectrum.
Shumpert, though, is optimistic that he’ll thrive in New York. Key to that optimism, he says, is an offensive system under Derek Fisher – and president Phil Jackson – that asks far more of him than former Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s.
The way it’s set up, you can start three guards, it really doesn’t matter. Everybody’s going to get touches, everybody gets opportunities to cut,” Shumpert said of the triangle offense. “It’s constant action going on. So I think that I’ll be able to capitalize on that and I’ll be able to use my athleticism a lot more than standing in the corner.
“I know this year in the offense I will have a lot more opportunities to cut and get to the basket,” he added. “I just want to work on the strength of my leg. Been working on that and being able to pull up off one or two dribbles [and working] on corner [3-pointers] and open 3s.”
Shumpert has a point.
Below are his shot-charts from each of the past three seasons. Let’s just say that you certainly wouldn’t know that Shumpert was drafted as an uber-athletic combo guard with a questionable jumper given these images.
Shumpert’s number of corner three-point attempts has increased each year he’s been in the league, while his amount of tries from the restricted has decreased. Part of that is due to Shumpert’s health: He tore his ACL in the playoffs his rookie season, and admits that he’s far more comfortable with his knee now than he was the past two years.
But much of it was due to the decline of New York’s offense, too. The Knicks devolved into stagnant ball-watching last season as their fortunes turned south. No matter how many games they win this season, that won’t be the case in the triangle offense.
Shumpert is ideally suited for specific tenants of the triangle. It’s easy to imagine him cutting hard off a big at the elbow and attacking via dribble hand-off, or running side pick-and-roll with a big – or Carmelo Anthony, for that matter – as a secondary action. That’s a far better proposition than what Woodson asked of him the past two seasons, which, frankly, wasn’t much of anything at all.
But it will only matter if Shumpert’s effort, decision-making, and shooting drastically improve from last season. Confidence is key to those developments too, of course, and Shumpert’s belief in the triangle is confirmation of that at the very least.
What do you think?
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