Next Steps: Iman Shumpert

Jonah Ballow
KnicksNow.com

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From a heartbreaking season-ending knee injury in Miami last year to an explosive 3-point barrage in Indiana in the 2013 playoffs, it was quite a whirlwind second-year campaign for Iman Shumpert.

The 22-year old made his season debut in London of all places and his impact was instantly felt on the floor.  He effectively worked through 45 games in the starting lineup, primarily at the small forward position.  While there were bumps in the recovery road, Shumpert ended on a strong note and head coach Mike Woodson praised the man he affectionately called, “Rook”.

"You have to tip your hat to him because that injury is a tough injury to bounce back from and when he came back he was somewhat on a roller coaster ride, trying to find himself.  We never kicked him to the curb, we built his minutes, and his minutes began to grow and his confidence began to grow, we saw the signs from Iman from his rookie year,” Woodson expressed.

In 22.1 minutes of action, Shumpert averaged 6.8 points, three rebounds, and one steal per game.  The offensive numbers are not necessarily jaw dropping but the wing is a true two-way player and often defended the opposing team’s most dangerous offensive weapon.  He also found a niche as a spot-up 3-pointer shooter, which is ironic considering the big knock on his game was the lack of a jumper coming out of Georgia Tech two years ago.  From the corner 3-point spot, Shumpert drilled 43.4 percent of his 53 attempts this season and finished 40.2 percent beyond the arc in 2013.

What’s next for Shumpert as he transitions into year No. 3?   

“If I’m going to take advantage of this summer, the thing I got to do the most is just keep my game where it is defensively and continue to do the things I do defensively,” Shumpert revealed.  “Become more consistent with rebounding the ball.  And, making sure I become an option, scoring the ball, a consistent option at that, not like whatever I bring is extra, that’s what we expect every game and whatever after that is extra.”

Fans will have the opportunity to witness the development of Shumpert in July.  For the first time in his career, Shumpert will take his talents to Las Vegas for the NBA’s annual Summer League session.

Woodson provided an explanation at Tuesday’s exit interview, “Again, we have to realize and understand he is a young player and sometimes as a coach I tend to expect too much from Iman because of what he teased me with as a rookie but that’s OK.  I think this summer will be very pivotal for him as he continues his growth and that’s why we need him to play in the Summer League because he needs the reps I think.  He needs to work and try to define his overall game when he comes back next year for vet camp he is ready to go.”

Of course, Shumpert is the ultimate competitor and did not shy away from the challenge or the opportunity to showcase his unique skill set in Sin City.

“Just to be under coaching, I think that will give me the opportunity to work on the things I need to work on for next year and for me to still be under coach’s wing.  It can’t be anything but positive,” Shumpert reiterated.

It’s shocking to think Shumpert has yet to participate in a complete season as his rookie year was the lockout shortened season and 2013 was cut short due to the rehab needed on his surgically repaired knee.  At his exit interview on Monday afternoon, Shumpert was salty, focused, and clearly outlined his objectives for the summer.  In order for the Knicks to take the next step towards a title, there’s no doubt Shumpert is significant factor in that journey.

WATCH Shumpert's exit interview here.


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