With Iman Shumpert now in the Rockets’ fold, he becomes the newest focus of the “New Faces” series.
To get more insight, we spoke to Tony Xypteras from Sactown Royalty. Thank you Tony for participating.
1. What is Shumpert’s biggest strength?
Tony Xypteras, Sactown Royalty: Leadership, and the Kings needed it desperately. I cannot speak highly enough about how Iman Shumpert changed the dynamic inside the Kings locker room. Of course, the Kings are an extremely young and impressionable team so the leadership role he played in Sacramento probably won’t have the same impact on a playoff tested, veteran team like the Rockets, but he’s a great chemistry piece regardless. He gave the young Kings core a level of confidence we hadn’t seen out of any of them until Shumpert arrived. Seriously, his impact in that locker room was palpable. I know calling someone a ‘locker room leader’ is pretty cliche at this point, but it’s who Iman Shumpert was for the Sacramento Kings.
2. What is Shumpert’s biggest weakness?
Tony Xypteras: Shot selection and offensive efficiency. For the first 20 or so games of the 2018-19 NBA season, Shumpert was providing the Kings with much-needed leadership and career-high level production despite some very questionable shot selection. He takes a lot of untimely pull-up jumpers from all over the court, but for the first two months, they were falling.
Over the last 20 games, Shumpert shot just 34% from the field mostly because the difficult, questionable shots he was taking and making earlier in the season weren’t going in anymore. His 3-point shot never totally left him, though, and if the Rockets can convince him to just spot-up instead of trying to do anything off the dribble, he can still be reasonably productive.
3. Why did Shumpert not work in Sacramento?
Tony Xypteras: I wouldn’t say he didn’t work out in Sacramento. Considering the Kings acquired him in a salary dump around the trade deadline last season and he didn’t play for the Kings at all until this season, his tenure was a surprising success. He went from a dumped salary to a serviceable starting small forward until his production started to dip, and I don’t think the Kings would have got rid of him at all if they didn’t know Harrison Barnes was on his way to Sacramento. Shumpert was a good King, though. I would even go so far as to say he was a beloved King, and I’m sure he’ll get a standing ovation when he returns, it was just kind of time to move on.
4. What is the best case scenario you foresee with Shumpert joining the Rockets?
Tony Xypteras: If the Rockets can optimize Shumpert’s role on offense, he can help. In the modern NBA, you can never have too many versatile wings, and with Shumpert’s playoff and NBA Finals experience, I think this was kind of a no-brainer move by the Rockets. His defense is still solid, and the Kings used him to guard all kinds of different players, from point guards to power forwards, and he did it well. The best-case scenario is he gives the Rockets, I don’t know, 70% of what Trevor Ariza gave them without the size, and I think that’s a worthwhile addition considering the price.
5. Will Shumpert help the Rockets move the needle and get better or will the team stay where they are currently?
Tony Xypteras: It’s hard to imagine Shumpert having a major needle-moving impact on the Rockets in the regular season because his role really shouldn’t be big enough to have that kind of an impact, but in the playoffs where every possession counts? He can still make big plays. If he makes a few game-saving stops, or clutch 3’s in the playoffs, two things he is more than capable off, it wouldn’t shock me at all. He did those things in Sacramento.