It's late in 5 on 5 drills last Tuesday. Iman Shumpert catches a pass, squares up behind the arc and flicks a high-arching jumper over the outstretched hand of Carmelo Anthony.
A few possessions later, Anthony catches the ball on the wing and assesses the defense. Shumpert sizes up the superstar, claps twice, crouches low in a defensive stance and gets to work. The possession ends in a missed shot by Anthony.
"He can make a lot of plays," says backcourt mate and veteran guard Mike Bibby. "He can score the basketball, he can guard people, he's a god passer and he he has a lots confidence. That's what you need coming in [to the league]."
No, Shumpert doesn't lack confidence. He showed it every time he took the floor in training camp scrimmages and preseason games.
The Knicks' first-round pick has impressed veterans and the coaching staff by playing an aggression and self-assuredness that's rare for a rookie. In two preseason games against the Nets, Shumpert scored 11.5 points in 28 minutes.
"His defense is really good," Mike D'Antoni said after the Knicks' final preseason game. "He is a big guard, point guard, small forward that can guard a lot of people. He is quick and strong and ... he's been impressive so far."
Just how Shumpert fits into the Knicks' rotation remains to be seen.
In all likelihood, he'll start the season as a reserve shooting guard. But D'Antoni curiously hadn't named his starting rotation the day before Sunday's season opener.
So there is a small chance Shumpert can start at point guard. No matter what his role is, Shumpert will play it with confidence.
"Some guys are [confident], some guys aren't," Bibby says. "He definitely is and it's going to help him."
HARRELLSON WANTS TO DO 'LITTLE THINGS' : Speaking of rookies, Josh Harrellson has shown a deft touch from the outside throughout the preseason. But he takes more pride in knocking around big men than he does in knocking down jumpers.
"I'm rough and I'm tough," Harrellson said earlier this week. "I want to do the little things that I don't want Amare [Stoudemire], I don't want [Carmelo Anthony], I don't want Tyson [Chandler] to have to do.
"I want to get second chance possessions for our team, I want to get out there and dive on the floor and just get the hustle points that they don't have to get."
Harrellson has caught D'Antoni's attention.
"I think he can really play. He is strong, he is dirt strong ... he's got a little pop to his game that people didn't know about," the coach said.
D'ANTONI FEARS THE UNKNOWN: One of D'Antoni's biggest concerns heading into the lockout-shortened season? He doesn't know much about his opponents.
"You don’t know anything. So you worry about it. As a coach you worry.... Worry is not going to change anything, but you just take it a step at a time and get through it," he said.
BIBBY HAS 'NO EGO': It's unclear at this point what role Baron Davis will play for the Knicks. If his back heals properly, Davis should be able to slide into a starting role. That may relegate Bibby to the bench. But Bibby, who signed with the Knicks during training training camp, is fine with whatever D'Antoni asks him to do.
"I'm an easy going guy and I don't have no ego," Bibby said. "I'm OK with everything."
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