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Regression or a slump: a look at Iman Shumpert’s shooting struggles

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Shump’s hot start may not be sustainable, but he’s still been struggling in January.

Kimani Okearah

Iman Shumpert has been struggling. He’s been a noticeable liability on the court, particularly his shooting. It’s gotten to the point that fans are noticing and many are calling for Shump to be moved to the bench in favor of Bogdan Bogdanovic or Justin Jackson. Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee recently asked Kings coach Dave Joerger about Shump possibly being replaced, and received a very Joerger response:

When I first saw that response, I scoffed. Shumpert is a career 39.4% shooter and is currently shooting 37.7% for the season. He’s a career 34.2% three point shooter, and he’s shooting 36.1% from three this season. There’s no slump, I thought, he’s just back to the shooter he’s always been. And to an extent this is true, Shumpert has regressed to the mean after a very hot shooting start to the year. But regression isn’t the whole story.

From NBA.com/stats, Shumpert is shooting 26.9% from the field in January, and 26.1% from three. Those are abysmal numbers, even for someone who was never a great shooter. That is absolutely a slump.

There are a number of factors that could be causing this. Shumpert missed multiple games at the start of January with a sprained right index finger. He’s been back in the lineup since January 10th, but it’s possible the injury is still impacting his shot. It could also be the pace catching up to Iman. He missed all but 14 games last season, and is now playing for one of the fastest teams in the league. Or it could also be shot selection. Shumpert’s decline in accuracy has coincided with an uptick in long twos.

Whatever the reason, it’s reasonable to expect Shumpert to shoot better than he has this month. We shouldn’t count on him shooting 50% from the field and 48% from three like he did in October, but he’s also a better player than he’s been in January.

While it can be frustrating watching Joerger stick with a player through a slump, it’s also a big reason why the team responds well to Joerger. He doesn’t make lineup changes at the first sign of trouble. He allows players to work through their struggles and supports them publicly. That’s how a good coach should operate.

The regression has happened. Now we just need Shumpert to start hitting shots at his normal rates.