The Cavaliers are set to square off with the Sacramento Kings in the midst of a two-game losing streak, and Tyronn Lue has decided to shake up the Cavaliers starting lineup.
Ty Lue says Iman Shumpert will replace DeAndre Liggins in the starting lineup tonight vs. SAC.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 13, 2017
I’ve privately wondered if this was coming for a while, especially given the addition of Kyle Korver to the roster. Tyronn Lue likes having a defensive guard at the two-spot to help Kyrie Irving defend point guards, but with the addition of Korver, it was sort of weird to leave Liggins in that role to be completely ignored by defenders and gum up spacing for the Big Three when Shumpert is paid to play that role in the first place.
Unfortunately, Shumpert, while a better player than Liggins, his shooting has been just as woeful. As FTS’ Mike Zavagno notes, Shump is in an absolutely brutal slump.
Here's the problem— Mike Zavagno (@MZavagno11) January 13, 2017
34% from the field (24% from 3)
37% from the field (19% from 3)
Mike, who is doing excellent work over on Twitter.com, notes Shump’s awful numbers but goes on to mention that perception sometimes exceeds reality in the NBA.
BUT I have said many times on @NoLong2s podcast— Mike Zavagno (@MZavagno11) January 13, 2017
Perception>reality many times in the NBA
Shumpert is perceived as a better shooter (1/2)
Than (1) Liggins; and (2) than he is right now. For that reason, teams will guard him differently than Liggins— Mike Zavagno (@MZavagno11) January 13, 2017
Nobody, and I mean nobody was guarding Liggins at all, and even though Shumpert is struggling, he has a slightly bigger gravitational pull than his peer. Even if the numbers don’t show it, he should help open up some space for the Cavaliers starting lineup as compared to Liggins.
Basically, Mike wrote this whole column for me, so you should go follow him on Twitter.
Overall, I think this is a net-positive move for the Cavaliers, who need to start marginalizing Liggins into more of a 9th-man role once the rotation gets fully healthy and perhaps adds a backup point guard. He’s been a pleasant surprise, but still has serious limitations.
Shumpert might not get to the heights he was at before he started slumping, but getting above 25% from three would be a good start. Playing with the starters actually really helps this cause as well, as being surrounded by Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love goes a long way towards your defender leaving you wide open.
The only real downside I see for the move is that the Cavaliers liked playing Shumpert as a nominal backup point guard when they prefer to keep Kay Felder glued to the bench, and it’ll be harder to stagger Shump’s minutes with Kyrie if they’re starting together. Overall, this appears to be a good move, and Tyronn Lue has earned the benefit of the doubt with how he manages rotations.