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Despite criticism from much of the media about their decision, the Knicks and Donnie Walsh, for the situation they were in, completely made the right choice when they drafted Iman Shumpert from Georgia Tech, with the 17 pick in last Thursday’s (June 21) NBA Draft.
Howard Beck of the New York Times explains the situation that the Knicks were in saying, “The need now is for high-quality role players, as well as shooting, rebounding and size. But the best shooters and big men were gone by the time the Knicks picked.”
These “shooters and big men” whom Beck refers to, most certainly include, Jimmer Fredette, Klay Thomson, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic, all of whom the Knicks were rumored to have had interest in before the draft. With these four players gone, The Knicks were left with the predicament of who to choose and they obviously thought Shumpert fit their needs better.
Knicks management, Donnie Walsh in particular, said the Knicks decided to go with the smaller Shumpert because he was thought fit the needs of the team more. In reference these comments by Walsh, Chris Sheridan of ESPN writes that, “the Knicks chose a defensive-minded guard rather than a defensive-minded forward simply because of the lack of playing time opportunities available at those positions behind Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.”
The media has been critical of the Knicks decision and have been saying that the team should have scooped up forwards Chris Singleton or Kenneth Faried instead. However, at the present moment these players would be excessive if added to the Knicks roster, due to the fact that the team is already stacked with players at the forward position.
Although many experts have said it was a stretch to take Shumpert with the 17th pick, he does give the Knicks added depth and multiple options being able to play both the point guard and two guard position.
Additionally to the holes Shumpert fills for the Knicks, management thinks of him highly because of the performance he displayed at pre-draft workouts. in reference to one of Shumperts workouts, Donnie Walsh said, “He shot the ball extremely well. His shot’s not broke. Some guys you see, and you can tell right away they can’t shoot and they’re going to have to learn form. He has good form, he was hitting shots, he can defend very well. Very well. And he’s got tremendously long arms, so I really liked him a lot,”
Also impressing the Knicks was Shumpert’s athleticism and physique. Jared Zwerling of ESPN refers to Shumpert as having “freakish athleticism”. At the Chicago combine, Shumpert impressed onlookers, including the Knicks, with this “freakish athleticism” recording a 36.5-inch standing vertical leap. In terms of physique, what is unique about Shumpert, is, how tall he is for a point guard, yet still manages to play this position. Shumpert stands at 6-6 feet tall, with a wingspan of 6-10. Not many point guards have a wingspan of 7 feet! Shumpert’s length, both in height and wingspan, are physical attributes considered to help him on the defensive end of the floor.
Shumpert is known more for his defensive prowess than his offense; however, if he can improve his offense even a modest amount Shumpert could be a sleeper pick that many teams will regret passing on. Even if Shumpert does not necessarily improve his offense, he can still contribute and be a valuable part of the Knicks roster. As New York Times writer Howard Beck explains, “Shumpert does not need the ball to be effective, making him a solid complement to the Knicks’ three stars.” Surely, he will be a formidable addition to the team as they come together to contend for a championship next year.