Iman Shumpert is in a serious slump right now. Over the last seven games for the New York Knicks, Shumpert is averaging just 2.4 points per game on 14.3% shooting from the field, 17% from beyond the arc. He’s looked lost, disinterested, and dispirited on the court as of late. It’s a far cry from the confident two-guard the Knicks saw pushing the pace, spreading the floor, rebounding, and defending with vigor.
Shump has scored in double-figures just eight times in 25 games, which hasn’t help the Knicks who are desperate for an offensive boost to their struggling offense. In the first four games of the season, Shumpert averaged 12.2 points per game on 46% shooting. Since, he’s averaged just 5.2 points per game on 31.3% shooting. In the 21 games since his strong start to the season, Shump has seen a decrease in 3FG% from 34% in November to 31% in December, and he’s been held without a field goal in four games.
Part of the reason for Shumpert’s slump (Slumpert?) is his lack of a defined role. The Knicks almost never run plays for him, and he doesn’t have any one particular offensive skill that he can focus on. For instance, Steve Novak was a floor-spreader, plain and simple — the Knicks put him behind the arc and had him wait there until he got the ball. J.R. Smith is an erratic offensive player, but he even has a role (usually) as a bench scorer in which he can initiate the offense, go one-on-one, or try to spread the floor and hit from the outside by hanging on the perimeter or running through a screen. It doesn’t always work for Smith, but at least he does have something of a role.
Shumpert lacks that. His most common offensive play, according to Synergy Sports, is as a spot-up shooter. He takes spot-up shots 26% of the time, and although he scores 1.04 points per play on those attempts, Shumpert is averaging just 40% from the field and 30.6% from beyond the arc this season, so it’s not his most effective play. He shot 40% from downtown last season, but sandwiched in between this season and his rookie season — in which he’s shot a combined 31.5% from three-point range — 2012-13 looks more and more like an aberration.
Shumpert’s second most common type of play on offense is in transition; however, after three years of watching him play, fans know Shumpert is erratic on the fast break as he’s not a great finisher at the basket. He averages less than a point per play in transition, which is only 138th in the league. Besides, the Knicks are 29th in the NBA in pace, and they average just 7.6 points per game on fast breaks, so that is not an effective way for Shumpert to score.
Synergy also tells us that Shumpert resorts to isolation 18% of the time on offense, but he is ineffective in that area, too. Shumpert’s ball-handling is average at best, and he struggles to create his own shot, so isolating isn’t his best course of action. According to Synergy, he’s shooting just 35.7% from the field in isolation situations.
Nonetheless, despite Shump’s struggles, he’s still among the Knicks’ most valuable players. Shumpert and Kenyon Martin are the only two Knicks with positive net ratings on the season, meaning the Knicks outscore opponents when Shump and Martin are on the floor. Shumpert’s on-versus-off-court ratings are especially noteworthy. With Shumpert on the court, the Knicks have a 102.9 offensive rating and a 101.8 defensive rating. Those numbers fall to a 99.8 offensive rating and 109.2 defensive rating with Shumpert off the court, giving the Knicks a -9.4 net rating when Shumpert is on the bench.
Despite Shumpert’s struggles, he is still very valuable to this team. If he improves and returns to his form earlier in the season or even last year, two things could happen. It could be the boost the Knicks need to get back to winning, or it could increase his trade value. Truthfully, either one would be good. Shumpert is the least valuable asset the Knicks would include in a trade between a 2018 first round pick or Tim Hardaway Jr. A combination of Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, and another player could net the Knicks a player like Kyle Lowry who could have value this season and beyond. And even if Shumpert stays on the team, the Knicks will still need him in his best form if they have any chance of making any noise in the Eastern Conference this season.
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