New York fans love them some home grown talent and rightfully so. The backbone of joy for Yankee fans during their dynasty was that, despite adding players like Wade Boggs, Tino Martinez, Wetteland and David Cone, the team had cultivated Jeter, Bernie, Pettitte and Mariano from their farm system. The 1986 Mets had the experience and leadership of Carter and Hernandez, but were anchored by the youthful power of Gooden and Strawberry. The Giants basically have their draft skills to thank for their 4 Super Bowls. The Jets have a guy named Joe Willie who is essentially their Tom Seaver.
Enter the Knicks, a franchise with limited success over the past 30 years including zero championships. They built their title teams through the draft and struggled when they moved off of it the rest of the decade. In the 80s they drafted their franchise center who gave them 15 years of quality basketball and used trades to strategically surround him with talent. See Oakely, Charles and Johnson, Larry to name two.
Trades are what essentially crushed 2000-2010 Knicks, as we can’t forget the Bulls still reaping the rewards of the Eddy Curry trade every time Joakim Noah snuffs out a pick and roll against Tyson Chandler or LaMarcus Aldridge walks out of MSG with win. Speculative, sure, but there’s a reason why the Curry trade was the gift that kept on taking.
This obviously gets us to the Carmelo trade, one that is still controversial to some. To me, as Wally Szczerbiak often says in post games, you make the Melo trade 100 times out of 100 because he can win regular season games by himself and has done so often. Playoffs are all about home court and match ups, and that starts in the regular season, which is where we are right now with a home grown young player about to be injected into the mix.
Iman Shumpert is the biggest fan favorite since Nate. As gifted as a scorer as Nate is, Shumpert is defensively. Novak beef aside, Nate is helping the Bulls tremendously and they can hide his defensive deficiencies because they are a great TEAM defense. My biggest worry with Shumpert, who hasn’t proven to be a reliable jump shooter, is that can the Knicks hide him offensively? Will they have to? They’ve had to hide Ronnie Brewer for about a month now, and that has really hurt them but Brewer’s defense hasn’t suffered one bit.
If Shumpert can give the Knicks what Nate gives the Bulls then the Knicks are a true championship contender in my opinion. Nate knocks down open shots from the perimeter and can get in the lane to put the defense at a disadvantage. He can be the missing piece. But he’s a second year player coming off knee surgery. Woodson would be wise to manage the young players minutes initially and continue his development with the hopes that his confidence is peaking in the spring. What Shumpert and Nate share is incredible athleticism and seemingly unbreakable confidence, and that’s what gets fans so excited for his return.
Like the many young, homegrown players in this town before him Shumpert can add a lot to a championship run and a magical season. His development has to managed correctly upon his return, yet another task for Mike Woodson to execute.