Shane Larkin, arguably the best UM Hoops player since Rick Barry, is working hard to make his presence known in the NBA.
But because he injured his wrist just before the season began, he never did quite catch his rhythm in his rookie season.
He did however have some nice moments:
And of course as 'Canes fans remember so very well from his heroics in Miami's 2012-13 ACC Regular Season and ACC Tournament Championship runs, Sugar Shane definitely has the clutch factor down.
In the Knicks 71-69 Summer League win over Portland Saturday Night, it was on display again as Larkin hit a clutch go ahead floater with 26 seconds to go.
Larkin is currently averaging 10.3 ppg 4.0 rpg 3.0 apg and 2.3 steals in 3 summer league contests for the Knicks in Las Vegas.
So how does he project this coming season for Derek Fischer's squad in New York?
I liken Shane to a faster, more athletic version of San Antonio Spurs back-up PG Patty Mills.
He needs to show the kind of shooting range he displayed his sophomore season at Miami, (40.6 % from deep) in order to fit in NY's triangle offense. He can beat just about anyone off the dribble, but as a smaller guard has trouble finishing at the rim despite his explosive athleticism (44 inch vertical). So Larkin will need to consistently hit floaters and mid range J's to keep defenses honest. Shane is very adept at penetrating and dishing to open shooters as well. But where he can really excel in the NBA is as a pesky on ball defender who can create havoc in the open court. Yes he will gamble some and that will lead to the occasional defensive breakdown. But he is a high energy guy with the potential to be in the Top 10 in the league in steals if he gets consistent PT.
Is Larkin an NBA ready starting PG?
Early on I expect the Knicks to go with Jose Calderon, who was also acquired from Dallas in the Tyson Chandler trade. Calderon is a pro's pro, but with a lot of tread on the tires, is limited both athletically and defensively. If the Knicks look like contenders, Calderon is their best bet. If they fall into full rebuilding mode, Larkin could crack the starting line-up as Phil Jackson and Co try to find out what they have. Again, he needs to consistently hit his outside shots to be a factor. Carmelo Anthony should certainly draw enough attention to give Shane open looks when/if they are on the floor together. And I worry that defending the elite point guards like Derrick Rose and Chris Paul, might be a little much to ask just yet. For now he should be just fine providing a spark off the bench as a well above average 2nd PG, while his game develops.
One thing is for certain. The New York Knicks are going to be a lot more interesting to watch this season with Shane Larkin on the roster.