September 14, 2018, 11:33 am
Iman Shumpert came over to the Kings at last year’s trade deadline in a deal that rid Sacramento of George Hill’s mammoth contract. Shumpert, though, possessed a sizeable contract of his own and would sit out the remainder of the season to nurse a knee issue
Unsurprisingly, he opted into his $11 million player option for this season and will be with the Kings for the time being. All indications are that he’s healthy and will be ready for training camp, a promising sign after playing just 14 games for the Cavaliers last season. Shumpert has been hampered by injuries throughout his seven-year NBA career, only managing two 70-game seasons to date.
The 28-year-old is out to prove he’s still got gas left in the tank and he’s in a situation where playing time could be on offer. Being on a rebuilding team is probably the best case scenario for Shumpert at this point in his career. The Kings have a gaping hole at small forward and he could soak up minutes in the interim while the team searches for a long-term solution. At 6-foot-5 he may be a little undersized to play the three, but his 7-foot wingspan and defensive prowess make up for the lack of height.
Bogdan Bogdanovic is an option to spend time at small forward and did play there a bit last season, but he’s yet to prove he can handle extended minutes at that spot; he’s best suited as a guard at this stage. Justin Jackson started 41 games at the three last season but he’s still a major question mark and really doesn’t look like a long-term fit. He’s going into his second season, though, so he’s still got some room to grow but he may not feature in the rotation like he did last year. Outside of Bogdanovic and Jackson, the options are incredibly limited and that’s why Shumpert seems like a natural candidate to assume the position.
One of the issues you have with Shumpert, though, is on the offensive side of the ball. He’s a career 39.6 percent shooter from the field and 33.8 percent from three, essentially making him a liability in that department. It’ll be on Dave Joerger to pair him with some offensive talent to really get the best out of Shumpert; plug him next to Buddy Hield and Nemanja Bjelica and you could have something there.
Shumpert’s made it no secret that he’s working on that aspect of his game this summer, with numerous posts on social media of him working out. This is only one of many he’s posted on Instagram:
It’s incredibly easy to make yourself look good with highlight videos on social media, so we won’t dive too deep there, but on a team like the Kings, he may get a little more freedom to show that area of his game. He spent time with LeBron James and the Cavs, winning the Championship in 2016, and was with the Knicks when they won 54 games during the 2012-13 season, so he’s got plenty of experience in winning situations and could bring that mentality over to a young Kings squad.
Shumpert has a chance to start for the Kings under Joerger, at least early on in the season. It’ll obviously depend on how he goes during training camp and preseason, but with the team’s shortage on the wing, it’s a possibility that the coaching staff runs him out there to start games. He’s a guy that Joerger could fall in love with, and that can be both a good and bad thing, but he’s a defensive-minded veteran and those guys normally mesh well with Joerger.
He’s certainly not going to give the Kings a ton of production this season. Shumpert will probably slot right into a similar role that Garrett Temple had and nothing much more, and that’s not a bad thing at all. At the very least he’ll be a player to keep an eye on purely based on the Kings’ lack of depth at small forward. His health will be a major factor, obviously, but Shumpert still has some game left and it makes sense for the team to try and get whatever they can out of him and his $11 million contract.