Exactly one year ago from today the Knicks were in the middle of their second round playoff series with Indiana. Today is the anniversary of game three, a game in which you knew the Knicks were in trouble from that point on as they lost 82-71. That was the beginning of a nose dive for every Knick player except for two. One, a guy named Carmelo Anthony (pretty self-explanatory), and the the other an unlikely Iman Shumpert. Shumpert pretty much took the whole 2012-13 regular season to recover from his torn ACL. A year where he played 45 games with a 22 minute average. However, once the playoffs got started that minute average increased to 28 a night. It felt like a new baby was born and certainly one of the only good takeaways from the Indiana series/ horror movie. I - along with many fellow Knicks fans expected a season from Shumpert that would solidify him as the second option.
Shumpert elevated his game in that postseason in almost every way. Not only was he dealing with an increased minute load but he also had to do it by feeling the wrath of Woodson. What coach wouldn't assign one of their only two scorers to guard the other team's best player? People talk about the many ways Woodson punted away that series but this is often overlooked. It's ridiculous that a twenty two year old that was shooting 43% from three only had a usage rate of 17%. There's also no doubt that usage rate could've easily been raised at least five points if he wasn't having to guard Paul George. There was a much better way to split the work load between him and Melo that was just basic coaching. In the flashes that Shumpert was able to operate I couldn't help but remind myself how he also showed similar flashes in his rookie season- most notably the Easter game with the Bulls. That was a huge game for the Knicks and Shumpert did all he could to put his team in a position for a W. Develop a player right and after two years of All Star flashes they're usually ready to make the leap.
While this season had some mysterious signs from Shumpert (his three point shooting dropped seven points down to 33%) I do think the way Woodson and Dolan regarded him was the biggest problem. Dolan pulled out every trick in the book to try and screw with his head and it sure did work. Woodson continued to utilize him absolutely terribly and even broke his rule of never starting J.R. Smith to get Shumpert out. Luckily, when it looked like all hope was lost and the Shumpert- Knicks bridge was burned it was Phil Jackson who stepped in and made sure that if he were to take the job, one of the things he's appreciate would be to keep Shump. This can only naively lead me into expecting another year in which Shumpert can elevate his game. Please Kerr/ Phil, at least give me this.