I think we’re all still trying to figure out who Iman Shumpert really is. Part of it, isn’t his fault.
Shumpart’s 2012-13 season was basically a rehab stint, after tearing up his knee back in April of 2012. Even though he did start all of his 45 games that he played in last season, it seems that he’s back to square one — with nothing guaranteed.
Shortly after he hit his third 3-pointer of the first half on Wednesday night, Iman Shumpert walked off the court and headed to the bench with a message for his teammates.
“I’m pissed off early this year,” Shumpert yelled.
“I got a chip on my shoulder,” Shumpert said.
Basically, Knicks coach Mike Woodson has gone on record saying that he is not guaranteeing a starting spot for Shumpert. Obviously, it’s a nice motivational tool for the third-year guard. Maybe.
“Iman’s just playing. There’s nothing to prove to me,” he said. “In fairness to J.R., too, J.R. is a big part of what we do. He’s going to be right in the mix as soon as he comes back from his injury, so it’s going to be competitive in terms of everybody getting minutes.”
Apparently Woodson is talking about a different JR Smith than the JR Smith we know, because the Smith we know is the same Smith that Woodson recently critiqued about needing to mature. Weird.
The key here is simple. This whole Shumpert vs Woodson thing could end up being one of two things. Either Woodson is playing a mind trick with Shumpert, trying to get the Georgia Tech product to play with an ultra-chip on his shoulder, or he is flat-out dumb.
I really hope, for Shumpert’s fate, that it is the former.
May I remind Woodson that Shumpert was Carmelo Anthony’s only reliable second-option in last year’s playoff series against the Indiana Pacers — a series where Smith was non-existent.
During last year’s regular season, Shumpert averaged about six points per game. In the playoffs, he averaged 9.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 40 percent from the field and 42 percent from distance. This is when Smith was turning in 29 percent shooting percentage nights, regularly.
Still, Woodson is basically saying that Smith is a better option than Shumpert. Okay. Oh and Shumpert is actually pretty good at this thing called defense, when Smith is well the opposite of that term. Kinda.
The fact is that Shumpert is only going to get better. Plus, he probably wasn’t even 100 percent comfortable from his knee injury, so that alone should make him look better — athletically if nothing else.
I really like Shumpert, which is why I didn’t think the Knicks needed to re-sign Smith, but I digress.
This Shumpert vs Woodson narrative could turn out to be nothing but a strategic smokescreen by the coaching staff, but it would be sad to see Shumpert end up on the short end of the stick because of Woodson.