Sunday, March 10, 2013
How the Knicks Explored With Feeding Iman Shumpert the Ball Against Jazz
With key offensive contributors from the likes of J.R. Smith, Steve Novak, Kenyon Martin, and Chris Copeland in Saturday night's win over the Jazz, it was difficult to shed light on any of the outings the Knicks' starters had.
That said, Iman Shumpert's efforts throughout the contest should boldly stand out most. The versatile sophomore has seemingly struggled since returning from an ACL tear. Since making his comeback in mid-January, Shumpert has undoubtedly paled in comparison to the player most remember him as from his rookie campaign.
His offensive movements have been ever so tentative, to say the least. He sometimes gingerly makes his way to the basket, and when he doesn't, Shumpert settles for long-range jumpers. Those clearly aren't his forte.
While coming off the bench in Mike D'Antoni's rotation last year, Shumpert could be seen as an explosive guard who enjoyed running the ball up a bit. Such a style of play, and such a role, seems to suit him much more fittingly.
The time he's taken to carefully make his way back from his injury (even his time actually on the hardwood) has prevented Shumpert from being as explosive and as speedy as many (including himself) would like on both ends of the floor. His timetable to get back to being 100% is completely understandable, but there's no doubt that with the likes of both Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony currently sidelined, the Knicks would enjoy a big boost from no matter where it comes from, Shumpert included.
Whether it be because New York will now have to search for other sources of offensive output, or because the team built up such a lead on Saturday, Mike Woodson's squad experimented with feeding Shumpert the ball a bit more.
Even approximately two months since he return, Shumpert didn't display that explosiveness with the ball, but he proved that he's getting there. Playing a bit more aggressively and assertively, the Georgia Tech product attempted to make his way to the basket again and again in the matchup against Utah.
His finishing power, aka the ability to absorb an opponent's contact and still make the shot, isn't really there just yet. But Shumpert nevertheless still attacked the basket, and to his team's pleasure, managed to get to the charity stripe almost at will.
It's not simply about getting to the line, but making your shots once you get there. The second year player connected on eight of ten free-throws. Both his number of shots made and attempted at the spot represented team-highs. Though he only shot 1 for 3 from the field, Shumpert still managed to finish with 10 points.
Perhaps the fact that his assertiveness paid off on offense helped give Shumpert a boost of confidence on defense too. Shumpert isn't anything close to sneeze at defensively, but it's undeniable that good play on one side of the floor often happens to be infectious on the other. He also grabbed 4 steals, and had a plus/minus of +18 for the game.
As Woodson is quickly learning, helping his players succeed is often about putting them in the right spots and right situations. With STAT and Melo both sitting out, adjustments will have to be made continuously as the team finds the right new formula for success.
Letting the offense run through Shumpert with the ball in his hands a bit more could prove to be a big piece of that puzzle, especially given his success embracing that type of role last season.