The New York Knicks surprised 2011 NBA Draft observers Thursday night, bypassing a couple of defensive-minded big men for athletic, defensive-minded 6-foot-5 guard Iman Shumpert of Georgia Tech. The initial reaction seems to be that this is a high-risk, high-reward pick for the Knicks, who do need to get better defensively.
ESPN Draft analyst Chad Ford gave the Knicks' selections of Shumpert in the first round and center Josh Harrellson of Kentucky with the 45th overall pick in the second round a B-. After saying the Knicks "swung for the fences" with this pick Ford opined that Shumpert "can be a monster" in the NBA -- if he can shoot the ball and run a team from the point.
CBS Sports gave the selection a B. Calling Shumpert a "high-flyer," CBS also said "Few players impressed unsuspecting NBA scouts more in recent weeks than this incredible athlete."
Hoops Hype called Shumpert a "Tough defender and terrific athlete."
Knicks' fans can feel good that their team at least made an effort here to get better defensively. If Shumpert also turns out to be an effective point guard that is even better. Of course, they still need to get better on the interior if they are going to be serious NBA title contenders.
Entering Thursday night's 2011 NBA Draft the New York Knicks did not have a pick in the second round. The Knicks, however, purchased the 45th overall pick from the New Orleans Hornets, and used it to select a big man, 6-foot-10, 275-pound Josh Harrellson, a center from the University of Kentucky.
Harrellson emerged as a senior with the Wildcats, averaging 7.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game after barely having played the season before. It is likely Harrellson's rebounding that attracted the Knicks, who are still lacking toughness and rebounding inside after taking guard Iman Shumpert with their first-round selection, 45th overall.
This season, Harrellson impressed NBA scouts with his work ethic on and off the court. They were particularly intrigued by his rebounding ability, and though he didn't show it, his face-up game. Harrellson could be a pick-and-pop guy in the NBA ... He was a consistent rebounder and defensive presence all season while mixing in some big scoring games.
The New York Knicks desperately need size, but their search for big men will continue. With the 17th pick in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft, the Knicks Thursday night took Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert. Shumpert is known as a very good defender, which begins to help fill a big hole for the Knicks. As a sophomore at Georgia Tech last season, Shumpert averaged 17.3 points per game to go along with 3.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game. He has a lot of size for a point guard at 6-foot-6, and draft-central site DraftExpress.com compares him to a bigger version of Kyle Lowry.
As with any draft selection, each player will be judged by not only how they do, but how the people who are drafted behind them end up as pros. The Knicks passed on the best defensive player in the draft, Florida State forward Chris Singleton, and the best rebounder in the draft, Morehead State's Kenneth Faried. The Knicks may have been better off taking either of them over Shumpert, but only time will tell.
It will be interesting to see if the Knicks will purchase another pick either late in the first round or early n the second round. If they do, you'd think they have to look to fill the size/rebounding need.