Now that I've got your attention, Knicks fans, how bout we spend a few moments discussing the playoff performance of Iman Shumpert, a.k.a. Jesus Shumplesworth, a.k.a. Shumpelstiltskin, a.k.a. That Dude Norris Cole Wishes He Was.
It's now been a month since the Knicks last took the court in Game 6, and I'm sure the vast majority of Knicks fans still have joy flashbacks of the Shump three-point barrage that nearly brought them back to the Garden for a Game 7. In a playoff run that featured sub-par performances from most (all?) of the Knicks' stars, Shump raised his games to heights we've yet to see in his brief career. Also, this:
Still no words.
I've been wondering how Shump's 2013 playoffs stacks up against other second-year guards from the past 20 years. It's important to remember that, given his lockout-shortened rookie season and injury-shortened sophomore season, he's played fewer games than just about every player on this list. Still, the results are impressive. Over the last 20 NBA seasons, a total of 31 second-year guards have played at least ten games in one postseason and clocked at least 250 minutes - here are the ten best performances, as measured by win shares per 48 minutes:
|9||Nick Van Exel||1994-95||23||LAL||10||464||38||73||21||22||200||.414||.318||.763||.135|
Let's break down those nine non-Shumps:
- 7 of the 9 have made at least one All-Star Game
- only 1 could be considered a true bust (Fred Jones)
- 4 of the 9 played for the Knicks after they had already stopped being good at basketball (Baron, Brewer, Fred Jones, and Penny)
- Manu Ginobili is only on this list based on a technicality - I doubt anyone considered him a true sophomore in 03/04. Also, Ginobili's resurgent performance in Game 5 of the 2013 Finals means the Knicks won't be able to sign him for another three seasons.
So how did Shump rate so high on this list - above guards like Rajon Rondo (12th), Deron Williams (17th) and Tony Parker (24th) - despite averaging a mere 9.3 points and 1.3 assists per game in the playoffs? He did it by completing his transformation into the what could be called the perfect Knicks guard. I covered this quite a bit during the playoffs, but the Knicks expected their guards to shoot the three, crash the glass, and get steals while limiting turnovers on offense. How did Shump perform in each regard?
- 42.9% three-point shooting.Sweet!
- 12.7% total rebounding percentage, best of any guard in the past 20 years.
- 11.7% turnover percentage, 7th best.
- 2.1% steal percentage, 11th best, tied with Ronnie Brewer, Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams and James Harden.
In terms of scoring, it would be irresponsible of me to discuss Shump's output outside the context of J.R. Smith's Wild Playoff Ride. In the first three games, when J.R. still somewhat resembled J.R., Shump scored a mere 4.3 points per game. In the nine games following the Jason Terry elbow, when J.R. fell of the face of the Earth, Shump's scoring jumped up to 11.0 points per game.
Now, Shump's playoffs weren't perfect - in Games 3-5 of the Pacers series, Shump scored 8, 0, and 5 points, respectively. His three-point stroke abandoned him for a time (1-for-10 in those games), which exposed the biggest remaining flaw in his game - his utter inability to finish at the rim consistently. Knicks fans must hope that he works on that part of his game in the off-season, and that he regains confidence in his finishing ability as he moves further away from that knee injury. The kid certainly has the athleticism to be a top-flight finisher in this league (see: above .GIF).
Going into the offseason, this Knicks roster is old, capped-out, injury-prone, and old. Regardless of what happens - in the draft, through trades or the free agent wire - the Knicks will be counting on a full season of playoff Shump to keep them in the hunt for another high playoff seed in 2014.