Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEWARK, N.J. — The Knicks may have gotten better defensively by picking Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert with the No. 17 pick in the NBA Draft, but they didn’t get bigger.
In his last draft as Knicks president, Donnie Walsh opted for the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Shumpert over 6-9 swingman Chris Singleton of Florida State, who was taken at No. 18 by the Washington Wizards, and 6-7 rebounder Kenneth Faried of Morehead State, who went at No. 22 to the Denver Nuggets.
Shumpert wasn’t at the draft and will be introduced at a 12:30 press conference Friday.
“We are pleased to add Iman to the Knicks,” Walsh said in a statement. “He is a tremendous athlete, with an incredible work ethic. Offensively, he can play both backcourt spots and defend three different positions.”
“He’s a terrific defender,” former Georgia Tech and current George Mason coach Paul Hewitt said by phone of Shumpert, who is repped by Happy Walters, Amar’e Stoudemire’s agent.
“He’ll bring a great perimeter defense, athleticism, and I think a rapidly improving point guard. He’s got a tremendous upside. But more than anything else, he’s going to be able to defend the 1, 2 and 3 and rebound the position very well in the NBA from Day One.”
An Oak Park, Ill., native, Shumpert averaged 17.3 points and 5.9 rebounds during his junior season with the Yellow Jackets.
“We are very excited to have Iman,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He is one of the better athletes in this draft who can play multiple positions. He will fit in nicely with what we are doing here, defensively and offensively.”
Singleton said the Knicks were on the phone with his agent almost right up until they opted for Shumpert.
“Oh yeah, I definitely was thinking it,” Singleton said of the Knicks. “They were on the phone with my agent 3 or 4 picks before that, talking about if I was still on the board they were thinking about getting me with another player. But it’s OK.”
Even Spike Lee seemed somewhat mystified by the pick as he had a confused and disapointed look on his face.
“This is the pick that Donnie made and we’re going to go with it,” Lee said. “We need defense. Defense and rebounding.”
Hewitt, who coached against Singleton in the ACC, said Shumpert is a more versatile defender.
“Chris, I think he’s similar to Iman, he can really guard,” Hewitt said. “The thing that Iman is he’s a little bit more versatile. He can handle the ball. His shooting is really improving. He can get to the foul line.
“Chris is a tremendous defender, but I think Iman is more versatile.”
The Knicks also acquired the draft rights to Kentucky forward Josh Harrellson from New Orleans for cash. Harrellson, a fan of jean shorts, or Jorts, was selected in the second round (45th overall) by the Hornets.
The 6-10, 275-pound Harrellson averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 rebounds in 38 games during his senior season. He led the Southeastern Conference in field goal percentage (.611) and ranked second in rebounding (8.7).
Harrellson, whose Twitter handle is @BigJorts55, tweeted: “Headed to New York tomorrow morning… Thank you everyone for all your support through the years I couldn’t be more proud!!”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.