JVG: Shump needs to play to his 'strengths'

ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy thinks Iman Shumpert can carve out a successful NBA career.

But Van Gundy thinks Shumpert needs to tweak his approach to do so.

“I thought he was on a good track. I thought he had a great rookie year. I think the injury set him back significantly. I think either role confusion or the lack of role acceptance has had him focusing too much on what he doesn’t do well versus maximizing what he does do well,” Van Gundy said in an interview on Anthony Donahue’s Internet radio show on The Knicks Blog.

Many thought Shumpert was primed for a breakout season last season. But he struggled to produce consistently on the offensive end.

Shumpert scored fewer than six points while playing at least 25 minutes in 19 games last season.

He continued to make strides on the defensive end, finishing first in defensive real plus-minus among shooting guards who averaged 25 minutes per game.

When asked about Shumpert in the interview with Donahue, Van Gundy offered a few suggestions for the fourth-year guard.

“He should be an every-night wing defender. He should be a high-energy offensive player who moves the ball selflessly, who when he gets his opportunities to attack long closeouts he attacks and creates plays at the rim for himself and his teammates,” Van Gundy told Donahue. “If he focuses on doing what he does best, he’ll have a nice career, but oftentimes that’s what derails younger players. Instead of narrowing what they do they’re always trying to expand what they do so they end up playing to their nonstrengths instead of playing to their strengths.”

JVG thinks Knicks will make playoffs: Van Gundy thinks the Knicks will be a playoff team this season in the competitive East.

“I thought Mike Woodson did a great job under trying circumstances,” the ESPN analyst said. “I think they’ll be a playoff team this year. I think they’ll have a good year. How far they go -- a lot is going to depend on matchups. Obviously the Eastern Conference has gone under some major changes.”

Van Gundy also thinks Carmelo Anthony should continue to play power forward.

“I think in today’s game he’s a 4 man. I think he’ll continue to be a 4 man as he gets older in his career too,” the former coach told Donahue. “I think he defends 4s better. I think he has advantages over 4s. You’ve got to pair him with the right defensive center because obviously you need basket protection.”

Van can’t wait for Knicks to bring back Ewing: Van Gundy coached Patrick Ewing so it makes sense that he’d be fiercely loyal to him.

“I just can’t wait for the Knicks to bring him home someday in some capacity ... he’s the best Knick ever. There’s a lot of great Knicks but as far as the best Knick of all time it’s Patrick Ewing," he told Donahue.

On the Knicks’ decision to trade Ewing toward the end of his career, Van Gundy said: “That was a horrible trade. If Patrick would have stayed the evolution to a more guard-oriented offense would have been inevitable ... it would have been fine.”

For Donahue's full interview with Van Gundy, click here.

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