During the season, the Cavaliers traded for the superb role player in Iman Shumpert from the New York Knicks, who originally drafted Shumpert back in 2011. Defense wins championships and for basketball, that could not be more true as Iman Shumpert is considered a defensive specialist. One of the best telling statistics for a team’s defense is its defensive efficiency rating. Defensive efficiency shows the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions.
Defensive efficiency is will make or break the Cavaliers chances of making the Finals, or even winning the Finals, if they are fortunate enough to make it. This is due to the fact that the last team to win the NBA Finals outside the top 10 in that category was the Miami Heat nine years ago in the 2005-2006 season. That team had an unbelievable duo in Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal though. Furthermore, that was the last season that both teams in the Finals finished the season outside of the top ten in defensive efficiency. The Cavaliers ranking this year on the defensive end was abysmal at 20th in the league. However, what do you do when your defense has some holes that need to be filled? You go out and trade for impact players such as J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov, and Iman Shumpert, who will all contribute on defense.
As important as Smith and Mozgov will be for the Cavaliers championship run, Shumpert will be the key for the Cavs, especially with the two-game suspension of J.R. Smith and the loss of Kevin Love.
When he was drafted, a veteran teammate of Shump’s said, “he’s about as good an on-ball defender as there is in the league right now.”
If a veteran in the league speaks that highly of a player that was just drafted, that says a lot about the young player and could also give them a confidence boost going to the new NBA environment. The thing that stands out the most about Shumpert is that he is not just a one-dimensional player. He is an impressive two-way player that will be able to score points and defend the other teams best player while also handling the ball and playing aggressive on the low block.
Shumpert averaged just 10.6 points per game in 38 games for Cleveland this season. It’s not a great amount, but factor in that he comes in off the bench, can produce for the team, and shoots the ball at a career clip this season of 41%, and you have yourself an asset. Given the fact that the starters have done most of the work for the Cavs this season, bench play will definitely factor into their run at the title. Shumpert shoots a high percentage from three as well at 34%, giving coach Blatt and LeBron James another reliable shooting option when his number is called.
Shumpert’s role will now expand as the projected starter for the next two games. Blatt might want to keep Shumpert on the bench to keep it defensively and offensively consistent, but there’s no doubt he’ll be key playing the shooting guard with LeBron James playing the power forward spot. In addition, Blatt might even use Shumpert as a relief small forward as LeBron rests periodically.