Iman Shumpert: Ready to Unlock Potential in 2016-2017

Last season was riddled with injuries for Iman Shumpert, a year that he would like to forget as far as his personal game goes.

Yes, it was a great year — the Cavaliers won their first NBA Championship in franchise history, they overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the best regular season team of all time, but Iman Shumpert personally saw his role decrease in the rotation. Shumpert began the year on the bench with a broken wrist that held him out for the first three months of the year, and then shortly after he came back, a Shumpert suffered a groin strain that would plague him throughout the remainder of the year.

Shumpert has been working on his offense and defense with Kyrie Irving, the Cavs young superstar point guard, throughout a large part of the offseason. This will benefit Shumpert as Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has said that Shumpert will likely get minutes as the backup point guard while Kay Felder and Jordan McRae develop their skillset more. 

Shumpert has the potential to be a very good defender. He has shown that he can be, it is just a matter of health and effort at this point. Last year, Shumpert had a defensive rating — a value that is determined by the points allowed per 100 possessions — of 103, which is the same as LeBron James' rating last year. To put this in perspective, Kawhi Leonard had a defensive rating of 96 last year, and James Harden had a defensive rating of 108 last year. The league average defensive rating was 106.4 last year, so Shumpert was an above average defender last year.

Shumpert has struggled on the offensive end of the court while he has been in Cleveland. He has never been a go-to scorer, but his offensive game needs to improve. Last year, Shumpert — per 36 minutes on the floor — averaged 8.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while shooting a paltry 37.4 percent from the floor. This past season was the worst shooting season of Shumpert's career, something that will have to improve.

One of the reasons why he shot so poorly from the field is that his three point attempt rate is very high: 47.9 percent of his shot attempts last season were from a distance and he shot an abysmal 29.5 percent from deep last year. One thing that can be done to improve his effectiveness is to get shots for him on the floor where he can be effective. The "shot" spots of the floor for Shumpert are from 16 feet to the three point line. In the long two range, Shumpert shot 48.2 percent on these attempts. This was his most efficient shot type, save for shots at the rim. The problem? Shumpert only had 18.4 percent of his attempts from this distance. It will be up to Coach Lue to get Shumpert more field goals in this range as this is where he can be most effective when away from the rim.

This year can be an improvement for Shumpert. He is entering the year healthy, something that could not be said about him last year, he and the team as a whole have a renewed hunger after tasting the champagne of victory, so look for them to all be locked in after the initial championship hangover has ended. If Coach Lue can get Shumpert more looks in positions that Shumpert can be successful in, he can have a much improved year. However, if he continues to hoist up threes, look for more of the same from Shumpert this year offensively. Regardless of the offense, he should have a much better year defensively in 2016-2017. 


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