Iman Shumpert started this postseason collecting a DNP-Coach’s Decision against the Pacers. It was the first time since joining the Cavaliers that Shumpert was left out of the rotation, and it was fair to wonder whether he would let the benching affect him.
Well, Dahntay Jones, who was signed just before the regular season ended, made sure that Shumpert would stay ready, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
"Dahntay, since coming to the team, he's always up to play one on one with me," Shumpert told cleveland.com. "The type of player I am and the type of rhythm I need, I need to play. Playing one on one, three on three, four on four, five on five at times when we get other guys to play -- it all helps me for all I need to do."
This is why, as our own David Zavac reported, leadership on the Cavaliers roster intervened to make sure that Jones received the last open roster spot for the team.
Dahntay Jones is mildly famous for Game 6 Finals in '16, but source told me Lue was going with another player before LeBron, Ky intervened.— David Zavac (@DavidZavac) April 17, 2017
This is the kind of leadership that is inherently intangible and hard to see unless you’re in the thick of it with the team.
As we know, J.R. Smith tweaked his hamstring in Game 2 of the Indiana series, Shump was pressed into action and did such a good job on Paul George that he earned his way back into the rotation, bumping Richard Jefferson out.
The Cavaliers may need Jefferson back in their regular lineup in a prospective Finals matchup, but it seems that given his skillset and current production, Shumpert’s spot is safe for now. If anything, Channing Frye may see his minutes cut against the Warriors.
“T. Lue got the hard job, man, trying to figure out who plays. I'm trying to make it hard on him,” Shumpert said.
Shumpert isn’t wrong. Lue is going to have some very difficult decisions and the Cavaliers depth will pretty much always create an odd man out short of cutting LeBron’s minutes, which isn’t going to happen. There’s simply not enough room for a 10-man rotation. That means a capable player will always be sitting.
That’s why it’s good to have somebody like Jones around to keep that player at the ready.