The Iman

With an upcoming labor dispute draft night became one of the last nights to make player transactions before the NBA fell into the same fate as the NFL. To me, this meant the promise of an exciting draft night, and so I cleared my schedule to be able to sit down and watch the whole event. I sat at my couch, cracked open a beer and called up some friends for some much needed commentary for the night.

Throughout the show we each made some snide remarks, but for the most part our attention was on who might slide to the Knicks. With the gutting the roster took to bring in Carmelo, this draft seemed more important than most others. (having a first round pick this year probably helped) As we got closer to the pick, the chatter started to heat up. Probably 95% of the the comments was some form of, “singleton baby! no way donnie passes on a talent like that.” However, to the dismay of many, Donnie did just that. As the pick was announced, the name Iman Shumpert scrolled across the screen. No one was prepared for this. We started shouting things like, “great, we got the poor man’s Corey Brewer.” and “Where is Isaiah holding Donnie?” or the token, “who?” I swear, I even heard a shriek from my neighbor’s house. The scene was so terrifying, I half expected the four horsemen to come trotting through my living room.

With enough time to reflect on the pick, I can see some of the wisdom behind it. The three best teams in the East (Celtics, Heat, and Bullls) have all-star players at guard. Rondo, Rose, Wade and Lebron have dominated us. If Iman (I’m gonna refer to him as Iman instead of Shumpert, because I like to think it is pronounced I-man instead of the proper pronunciation. For some reason I think it makes him sound like a better player. I have no idea why, it just does. Also it is fun to say, and if I’m not completely sold on him as a player, I’d like to have fun with his name) can help to shut those guys down, the pick will be justified.

I wasn’t that rational on draft night. I went on a tirade. I just didn’t understand the Knicks thinking. We had a guy who was a good perimeter defender (Corey Brewer), but couldn’t hit a jump shot, and we bought him out because D’Antoni didn’t think he could play in his system. Did this pick mean the end of D’Antoni? Moving past that, we now have four guards on our roster, and Iman is easily the worst one. Wasn’t Fields determined untouchable during the trade deadline? How do we draft a guy who plays his position in the first round?

When asked why they drafted Iman, Knicks brass cited their deficiencies on defense, and hoped this pick would go a long way towards shoring that up. That makes sense, but then why not draft Singleton or Faried. Both are considered top notch defensive players, and more importantly they have size. We needed defensive players, but we needed them to play the 4 or 5, not the 1, 2 or 3. Some analysts even think Singleton is athletic enough to guard the 1. How do the Knicks pass on this guy?

Trying to pull a Spike Lee, I have been able to justify this pick to myself. Like I said earlier, if he is as good defensively as people have claimed he is, he could help us shut down some of the East’s top players. While his jump shot is suspect, so was David Lee’s when he first entered the league. Lee turned that weakness into arguably his biggest strength. (some people may say rebounding, but I think his shooting was more impressive. He had good rebounding numbers for the Knicks, but that had more to do with the fact that there weren’t great rebounders, and someone on the team had to get them. Also he always seemed to be somewhat of a stat whore. When another player came down with a rebound that David wanted, he would give them such an angry stare. I am almost 100% certain he chewed his teammates out more for “stealing” his rebounds, than he did for their lack of effort on the court) If Iman could pull off a similar feat, he could be a great pick up for the Knicks.

I guess we’ll hope for the best from this kid this upcoming season. That, or pray Jerome Jordan has turned into a top center in the league. What? It’s the offseason, I am allowed to dream.


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