Last week, the Kings, Cavaliers, and Jazz completed a three-team swap that sent George Hill to Cleveland with Iman Shumpert and Joe Johnson heading to Sacramento, as well as the Miami Heat’s 2020 2nd round draft pick.
While Joe Johnson won’t stick with the team as he has completed a buyout and will join the Houston Rockets, Iman Shumpert is here to stay and could be on the roster through the 2018-2019 season.
Our newest wing was originally drafted by the New York Knicks back in 2011 with the 17th overall selection. He was a defensive wizard in the college ranks and the hope was that his offensive game would someday catch up to his other skills.
He spent his first 3.5 years with the Knicks before being attached to the J.R. Smith trade that sent both players to the Cavaliers. In that time, he continued to demonstrate his ability to guard multiple positions, while his ability to consistently score the basketball never really showed. His first year in Cleveland was also his most impactful, averaging 34.8 minutes per game in the playoffs, behind only LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Trisan Thompson.
Over the past two seasons, he’s seen his role slightly reduced as the Cavaliers have relied more upon J.R. Smith to stretch the floor and have acquired players such as Kyle Korver and Dwyane Wade to contribute on the offensive end.
Shumpert has a player option for the 2018-2019 season, and while he's unlikely to find many minutes on a rebuilding team chock-full of young wings, it would be surprising to see him enter free agency. Even though he's only 27 years old, his injury history and lack of offensive punch will limit his value in the open market. Assuming Iman is with the team next year, he'll be making just over $11 million dollars prior to his contract expiring in the summer of 2019.
As mentioned above, defense has been the calling card for our newest acquisition throught his seven year professional career. When healthy, he can typically guard opponents in the 1-3 range due to his huge wingspan and natural instincts on that end of the court. In the 2016-2017 regular season players guarded by Iman Shumpert shot 2.3% worse from the floor.
That ability to disrupt other teams has allowed the Cavaliers to sic Shumpert on playoff opponents' best player during their last few Finals runs. Last season, he took on Paul George against the Pacers, DeMar DeRozan against the Raptors, and Steph Curry against the Warriors. In an impressive display of defensive fortitude, Shump held opposing players to just 32.6% shooting from the floor, a 13.7% reduction in their normal shooting percentages.
He's a large, physical defender who has a tendency to pick up a couple of aggressive, in your face fouls each time out on the floor. For a team with too many "nice guys", Shumpert could help to set the tone for a young, malleable team.
The biggest concern surrounding our newest acquisition is his lengthy injury history. Shumpert has faced a myriad of ailments over the past three years and has missed a total of 112 games in that span.
Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those situations in which one missed season makes a player’s availability look worse that it actually is. He’s struggled to stay on the floor and Kings fans shouldn't necessarily expect that pattern to change. His lack of availability is one of the main reasons his contract is looked at as such a burden.
Shumpert Games Played
|Season||Games Played||Games Missed|
|Season||Games Played||Games Missed|
Shumpert has also never been able to become the two-way player that he was projected to be. The former Cavalier shoots a below-average 34% from deep in his career, and an even more depressing 39% from the floor. There has never been a season in which he’s averaged double-digit points, with 9.5 PPG being his highest in his rookie season, and he’s not a particularly effective rebounder or passer either.
Here’s a look at his anemic shot chart from last season, thanks to nbasavant.com:
There’s certainly something to be said for his ability to knock down the corner three from the right hand side of the floor, but aside from that, if you’re relying on Shumpert to score regularly or efficiently, you’re going to be severely disappointed.
The George Hill trade was all about shedding his salary and gaining a minor asset, rather than finding pieces for the rebuild; and Iman Shumpert is a perfect example of that semi-awkward situation. The Kings are already bursting at the seams with wing players, featuring Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Bruno Caboclo, and Justin Jackson as young contenders, as well as Garrett Temple and Vince Carter to soak up the veteran minutes. Finding a spot for Shumpert in the rotation will be next to impossible.
Speaking of Temple, Shumpert is essentially another version of our multifaceted guard. Both are true shooting guards who can play point or small forward in a pinch, both are known for their defensive acumen, and both are probably best suited in a bench role on a contender.
It’s going to be interesting to see if the Dave Joerger gives his newest guard a chance to find a spot in the rotation, or if the Kings bury him on the bench with the slight hope that he opts out to find a better situation elsewhere this summer.
Iman Shumpert was never acquired to be a part of our future. He was a convenient salary filler who made the George Hill trade possible. We may see him gain some minutes as he’s the type of player that our Head Coach seems to love, but don’t expect him to find a long-term home in Sacramento.