Iman Shumpert debuts for the Knicks… and it was pretty good

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When Iman Shumpert was drafted, Knicks fans got excited.

That’s pretty normal, right?

Now, here’s where the story diverts into two tales. On the one hand, you have normal fans. “Hey, maybe Shumpert can contribute and eventually start.” Or, “Wow, he’s got great athleticism and an all-around game, he could really be a difference maker, eventually.” Then there’s the “I’m telling you, the guy is special and is going to be Rookie of the Year and an All-Star.” The first group of fans denies that the second group of fans exist, for the most part. But go take a look in the scary wilderness of the internet, and you’re going to find them, loud and clear. And while there are certainly lunatic fans among any fanbase demographic, Knicks fans, based on the whole New York thing… they have a special flavor to them. It’s endearing really. But it’s out there.

Funny story, though. Shumpert debuted against the Nets in a preseason game today, and he was much closer to being in-between the two estimations than he was to bust level. Shumpert scored 16 and showed pretty much everything you want to see with regards to what the Knicks need from him, short of point guard playmaking ability.

Shumpert is going to be a two-guard, barring some sort of dramatic development in ball-handling and playmaking. But he’s going to be a crack spot-up shooter, and a player that can provide offense when the defense collapses on the Knicks’ stars, or if Amar’e and Melo are on the bench. More importantly, however? He’s active and long on defense. In a key sequence Saturday, Shumpert slapped the ball out of a distracted Deron Williams’ hands into the backcourt, then snatched it and finished with a layup. It’s exactly the kind of play the Knicks need to make things easier for their team with all the pressure on a shortened talent scale.

Shumpert had a good game in his first preseason tilt against a fairly wretched Nets team. But he also showed enough to start building a movement. He looks to be a good player, and for Knicks fans, that’s enough to get excited about.