The Shump Shrug.
That’s exactly what you see from Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert when blitzed with media questions about his meteoric rise in New York City. The 21-year old displays an enormous amount of confidence both on and off the floor, which has the hometown fans clamoring for his presence at each home game.
Interesting enough, Shumpert seems relatively unaffected by his new NBA life and the significant amount of attention that follows the current starting point guard for the Knicks.
“If you play hard, good things happen,” Shumpert casually stated. “You just have to keep playing hard.”
This is a simple summarization from a player that was passed by 16 teams in the 2011 NBA Draft and dealt with a myriad of questions surrounding his ability to shoot from the perimeter while leading a team at the point guard spot. He put on a show at the Chicago Combine over the summer, displaying incredible athleticism and an NBA-ready body. The momentum carried through the short training camp all the way into the Christmas Day opener.
After returning the floor after missing 10 days due to an MCL sprain, Shumpert made his debut with the starters in his third game back and is not only receiving chants from the Garden crowd but a heavy dose of coverage on major media outlets. NBA.com moved Shumpert up to No. 3 in its latest Rookie Ladder, citing his 12.7 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.2 steals per game averages, not to mention an impressive 90.9 percent shooting clip at the charity stripe. Fans are watching a dynamic individual with the skills to navigate through the paint and find open teammates near the rim. He is also proficient on the defensive end, jumping through passing lanes and finishing in transition. Pull-up jumpers, deep range from the perimeter, and an innate sense for the game are all a part of his evolving game.
One of the main reasons Shumpert lacks the emotion of surprise at his achievements on the NBA floor is due to the difference between his experience at Georgia Teach and with the Knicks.
“I have Carmelo [Anthony], Amar’e [Stoudemire], you got Tyson [Chandler]. I had younger guys at Tech. In a couple of years, those guys that were freshman are going to be really good players but I’m a little more polished as a junior and their freshman, so it’s a little difference. It’s harder to get the chemistry. Now, I’m with veteran guys, so I can be a little more aggressive and stick to the things I do well and they do the things they do well,” Shumpert explained.
Whether he’s on the practice floor, at the Garden, or speaking to the massive group of media members after a game, Shumpert exudes a level of confidence that is infectious. His All-Star teammates have certainly taken notice of the Illinois native.
“He’s so poised as a rookie and you can’t say that about a lot of rookies. For him to come and fit right into what we are doing – that’s big time for him,” Anthony acknowledged.
New York’s leading scorer added, “I want him to play with a chip on his shoulder. You know, go out there and show everybody what he is about.”
The rookie has swag too, just follow his unique personality on twitter or catch a glimpse of his sparkling white basketball shoes with wings, or watch him spit rhymes on KnicksNow.com. The confidence is what makes Shumpert a special individual without a second thought to zoom out and realize the events surrounding him.
In New York, the pressure to succeed can be daunting, especially for a first-year player. Shump just shrugs and delivers for his teammates on the court – it’s that simple.