PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Shortly after he hit his third 3-pointer of the first half on Wednesday night, Iman Shumpert walked off the court and headed to the bench with a message for his teammates.
“I’m pissed off early this year,” Shumpert yelled.
That might be a good thing for the Knicks.
Shumpert, animated on the floor all night long, poured in 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting in 25 minutes in the Knicks’ 103-102 preseason-opening win against Boston.
“I got a chip on my shoulder,” Shumpert said.
Shumpert made a strong opening statement in the suddenly open competition for starting shooting guard. Mike Woodson said before the game that Shumpert and J.R. Smith would compete for the Knicks' starting 2-guard spot. If the coach was influenced at all by what he saw from Shumpert on Wednesday, he didn't show it after the game.
“Iman’s just playing. There’s nothing to prove to me,” he said. “In fairness to J.R., too, J.R. is a big part of what we do. He’s going to be right in the mix as soon as he comes back from his injury, so it’s going to be competitive in terms of everybody getting minutes.”
Shumpert insisted before Wednesday's tipoff that he didn't care whether he started or came off the bench.
“As long as we win, I'm happy," he said. “I just want there to be a new scouting report on me. I’m going to establish a new scouting report.”
If what Shumpert showed on Wednesday night carries into the regular season, scouts will have to rewrite the book on Shumpert. The former first-round pick caught fire early in the second quarter, hitting three 3s and converting a thunderous dunk on a feed from Metta World Peace.
"I thought he was poised in his shot selection," Woodson said.
Shot selection might be one factor Woodson weighs as he decides between Shumpert and Smith. Smith's shot selection has been questioned throughout his career. Shumpert picked his spots wisely on Wednesday, knocking down an open 3 30 seconds into the second quarter and hitting a deep jumper and two more 3s in a span of 74 seconds midway through the period. Shumpert was animated during the sequence, yelling at the Knicks' bench and at his teammates on the floor after some of his makes. That on-court display of emotion is something that his teammates –- and opponents -- can expect all season.
“I changed when I came into the league, trying to be quiet and feel my way around, but I’ve been around a little bit now and I’m just going to do what I do. It makes me comfortable.”
Now that he’s comfortable, Shumpert said he can “go back to the things that I love to do. And I like to talk trash, so I’m going to do it.”
The question is: Will he be doing it off the bench or as a starter?
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