Iman Shumpert

Why We Should Watch: Iman Shumpert

Iman Shumpert

Yeahhhh I’m talking Melo. Yeahhhh I’m talking Tyson/

And that’s a gold medal. Amar’e, he known to spike it/

And we got Thomas. Went back and copped Felton/

Mixed Prigioni with Jason and ohhhhh Lord help ‘em/

If you told me Iman Shumpert was a member of the throwback ’90s Knicks, and was re-joining his former locker room pals Camby and Kurt, I would be inclined to forget he was drafted in 2011 and believe you.

There’s no denying Shump has an unmistakable love for that #post90s attitude. He’s arrogant; He’s cocky; He talks trash; He steps to guys’ faces; He gets technical fouls for staring down opponents after yam’ing home a vicious poster dunk. Simply, he’s awesome.

But, our tower-haired guard has notedly regressed from the promise and potential he dazzled us with since the unofficial Lockout Summer League in Las Vegas two summers ago. A wonky, roller-coaster season culminated in a somber and inglorious first-round-Game-1 exit via ACL tear for Shump. His rookie campaign was over, and questions loomed about his future. Having already sustained a knee injury in his 22nd minute of official NBA action, Shump now needed surgery to repair damaged ligaments.

And it sucked.

New York Knicks fans have an undying fetish for “homegrown” talent. It’s why we fell in love with Wilson Chandler. It’s why we fell in love with Danilo Gallinari. Shit, we even gloated over Timofey effin’ Mozgov enough to propel him as the “make or break” asset in a trade deal to net the eventual 2013 scoring champ. So, when the Knicks drafted Iman Shumpert, while later jettisoning Landry Fields and Jeremy Lin, it became clear: THIS is our future.

Much to our pleasure, however, Shump has gradually rounded back to form during a sophomore season in which his head coach still refers to him as “rook” (he’s the youngest member of the Knicks by a 5-year margin and 9 years younger than the average team age of 31). Shump is back to doing general Shumpy things. He’s peppered flashes of his otherworldly athleticism with beguiling slashes along the baseline and nifty finishes at the rim. He’s honed a questionable jumper with fluid form mechanics and has become somewhat of a corner three specialist. He’s back to playing that stingy on-ball perimeter defense that enamored us to him in the first place. Simply, he’s awesome again.

Leg cramp in game 82 of the regular season aside, Shump will look to be a key component for the Knicks in the Playoffs. His corner three will probably be more valuable to a trigger-happy squad than his defense at this point, and realistically, he’s not shutting down Dwayne Wade, should New York meet Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Still, Shump is Shumpin’ again. Is anyone messing with his Knicks? We will find out shortly.

In the meantime, quit hating on the hair, haters.