Woodson: Shumpert needs to improve
October, 14, 2013
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Mike Woodson's not worried about Iman Shumpert's hairstyle. He's more concerned with his defense.
"Defensively, he's got to start being more solid and not so overaggressive that he gets beat," the coach said Monday.
And he wasn't done there. There are a number of things that Woodson would like to see Shumpert improve upon this season.
"Iman plays hard. That, to me, is the thing that's kept him on the floor," Woodson said. "[But] he's just got to figure out, we've got to help him figure out, [how] his game that coincides with what we want to do.
"He's got to be able to play pick-and-roll offense [and] he's got to be able to run the team with the ball in his hands, because our [point guards, shooting guards and small forwards] handle the basketball."
Woodson's critique of Shumpert is interesting because the coach is usually protective of his veteran players.
With Shumpert, though, it's different.
Woodson has been critical of Shumpert's offense throughout the preseason when he's asked about it.
Shumpert shot just 39 percent from the field last season but hit 40 percent of his 3s. His offensive efficiency -- or points produced per 100 possessions -- increased by 12 last season compared to the year before. Shumpert, though, was rarely used as the primary ball-handler in the pick and roll, which is one area Woodson would like to see him improve upon this year. That may help Shumpert get to the line more often. His true shooting percentage -- a measure that incorporates 3-pointers and free throws -- ranked 49th among shooting guards last season.
For what it's worth, Shumpert says he isn't bothered by his coach's critiques.
"Every level I've gotten yelled at, but I think it's just because I can do a lot of different things and they expect a lot out of me," said Shumpert, who cut his famous flattop over the weekend. "I'd rather somebody expect a lot out of me than nothing at all."
Shumpert will compete with J.R. Smith for the Knicks' starting shooting guard spot.
Smith, though, hasn't taken the floor yet in the preseason.
He's been rehabbing from offseason knee surgery. Once Smith is deemed healthy enough to play, he will serve a five-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy.
So Shumpert -- who has said he doesn't care whether he starts or comes off the bench -- has an early edge on Smith, according to Woodson.
But, clearly, the coach needs to see more from Shumpert before he gives him the job.
"There are some things he's got to clean up. He's still a young player," Woodson said. "And there's nothing wrong with that; we've got to help him get there quickly. That's the name of the game."
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