Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Iman Shumpert

New York Knick Jarred Jeffries has described rookie teammate Iman Shumpert as “about as good an on-ball defender as there is in the league right now.” 21-year-old, 6’5” Shumpert will get many more opportunities to display both his defensive and offensive talents now that Madison Square Garden is Linsanity-less after it was discovered that PG Lin has a meniscus tear in his knee.

With 6X All-Star Amare Stoudemire out for at least the rest of the regular season due to a bulging disk in his back, the Knicks’ near-future success will depend on increased production from Shumpert, especially scoring.

The Knicks currently sit in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference at 27-26, 2.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the last playoff spot. With the 32-year-old, oft-injured PG Baron Davis now in the starting 1-guard spot after having missed the first 32 games of this compacted season, there’s a good chance he’ll have to play limited minutes to avoid re-injuring himself. This probable scenario would give Shumpert even more court time and production.

In fact, Shumpert led NY in minutes played in their last game. Since Jeremy Lin prematurely ended his season four games ago, Shumpert’s playing time has tracked at 35, 32, 41 and 39 minutes, much higher than his season average of 28 mpg. He has scored 11, 25, 25 and 10 in these four contests and averaged 2.5 steals per game. Shumpert’s back-to-back 25-point games set and then tied his career high. His season average of 9.8 ppg will surely rise based on this sample and the overall team circumstances.

Shumpert is just a rookie, but he has been learning and improving in the 24/7 hoops cauldron that is New York City and MSG. With added run, this one-time Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket will be in position to fill up the stat sheet. In fact, in his last year playing for the Ramblin Wreck, Shumpert led his team in scoring, rebounds and assists.

As the Knicks finish out their regular season schedule with the 13 remaining games, Iman Shumpert will be a key and fruitful part of their push to the postseason.