What is Iman Shumpert, exactly?
Shumpert is, supposedly, a combo guard, an idea that probably persists because the Knicks once thought of him as a point guard (seriously, let that percolate), yet the sight of him dribbling gives most Cavs fans cold sweats. He has terrific size for a wing defender - 6'5, 220 lbs - yet seems oddly mismatched at times, prone to gambling instead of staying home. He's a "3 and D" player who cannot hit threes; if you take out his injury-shortened 2012-13 campaign where he hit 51 of 127 (40.2 percent), he's a career 32.1 percent shooter from beyond the arc. He's a tough-nosed player, but cannot stay on the court (he's appeared in more than 70 games once in his five seasons). He's young (celebrated his 26th birthday less than a week ago), yet it feels like he's been around forever.
As much as we like to call J.R. Smith an X-factor or an enigma, it's the other player Phil Jackson gifted to Cleveland in January, 2015, that's tough to figure out.
Following his steady play in the 2015 playoffs, the Cavs rewarded Shump with a four-year, $40 million extension. As with most extensions signed over the past couple of offseasons, it'll look better and better as the cap rises. (Side note: at what point do we stop reminding people of this reality? 2017? 2018? Ever?) He missed training camp and the first month and a half of this season following wrist surgery, rushing to make it back in time to ramp up for the Christmas Day tilt against the Warriors.
Overall, Shump averaged 5.8 points (a career low), 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 24.4 minutes per game with an effective field goal percentage of 44.4 percent (also a career low). Despite all that, the team was 2.0 points better per 100 possessions with him on the floor, versus when he sat.
In the playoffs, his minutes dropped to 17.5 per game, and he averaged just 3.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.8 assists on 52.5% effective field goal shooting. Don't let the bump in his own individual shooting numbers fool you into thinking he was an overall plus during the title run; the team was 4.4 points better with him on the bench, despite LeBron being on the floor with him for two-thirds of his playoff minutes. He had some astoundingly bad stretches, such as the second quarter of Game 3 of the Finals and every second he was on the floor in Game 6 (and Ty Lue had to turn to Dahntay Jones).
On one hand, every great team needs players who are content to fill certain roles, and Shumpert does that. He knows what he is and (usually) stays in his lane. He's out there to play defense and take open threes. Giving him the extension was absolutely the right call, and I'm sure the Cavs will be more than happy to roll with Iman in the rotation for the next few years. On the other hand, he just sort of is what he is - a fine defender who can't actually hit threes and is a bit injury prone - and may never quite develop the handle or the shooting to take the next step.
We'll finish with something happy, because I feel bad being so harsh regarding Iman, who seems genuinely cool, fun, grounded, and like a really great teammate...
Iman's finest moment of the season didn't come on the court, but rather in his bathroom, where he freaking delivered his freaking baby.
On Dec 16th at 6:42am in our bathroom Junie decided she wanted to take her first breath into this world. She came out as a wonderful surprise to everyone! Not knowing I was in labor until I felt her head...it took two ten count pushes with my fiancé playing Dr and she entered this world into his bare hands! Eyes full of tears and barely able to speak to the emergency operator @imanshumpert tied a pair of red headphones around the umbilical cord and the ambulance made there grand entrance 5 min later. She opened her eyes right away, gazed into mine and never cried! He handed her to me wrapped in our bath towel and wiped her face for me to see what LOVE really is. She has blown Christmas away! Our family is complete. Her blueprint will be unmatched. Welcome Iman Tayla Shumpert Jr. Mommy carried you. Daddy delivered you. #MeetTheParents we love you baby girl
I have two kids. Both were born in modern hospitals, with excellent doctors and nurses caring for my wife and our new arrivals... and I was still in shambles. A complete nervous wreck. So, the very idea of delivering a child in the bathroom, while your beloved partner screams as she pushes another human being out of her, all without the sweet, sweet release of an epidural or any other magical pain-killing drugs, is enough to make me anxious. I'd lose it. I'd pass out.
Shumpert did not pass out; he called 9-1-1, they talked him through what to do, and he has a beautiful baby girl (and one hell of a story) to show for it. Respect, Iman. You're better under pressure than I'll ever be.