The Brooklyn Nets are absolutely on fire right now, and it only helps that Iman Shumpert will be entering the lineup. Brooklyn has now won 8 straight games, winning 7 of those without Kevin Durant. However, another important player who’s been out is Iman Shumpert. Shumpert isn’t a big name, and he won’t play close to 25 minutes per game, but he can provide a major spark off the bench for the Nets. Iman Shumpert is not only an established veteran but an NBA champion. Shumpert has made an appearance in 79 career playoff games. He adds much-needed playoff experience to a rather youthful second unit.
Who Is Iman Shumpert?
Iman Shumpert began his career across the East River with the Knicks. He earned first-team all-rookie honors in 2011-2012 by averaging a career-best 9.5 points per game along with 1.7 steals. Shumpert was a regular starter for the Knicks early on in his career before he was traded to Cleveland. Shumpert was vital to the Cavaliers’ championship run in 2016. He even made a ginormous 4 point play in Game 7 of the 2016 finals, a game Cleveland won by just 4 points. Unfortunately for Shumpert, his best statistical years were his first few years in the NBA, but that is also due to his decrease in minutes throughout his career. Shumpert even played 13 games for the Nets last year, proving he could still defend at a high level.
Iman Shumpert has always made his mark on the defensive end. He is a very capable three-point shooter as well and a decent facilitator. He shot poorly with Brooklyn last season, but playing alongside the Big Three will give Shumpert more open looks. Shumpert’s stellar on-ball perimeter defense will take the pressure off of Irving and Harden at that end of the floor. For example, in a playoff series against Milwaukee or Philadelphia, Shumpert could be a significant piece on the defensive end. Shumpert can take on the challenge of defending Tobias Harris or Khris Middleton, each team’s best shot creator. Until the Nets make a trade to get a better big man, they will continue to struggle down low, but having the perimeter defense on lock is far more important considering threes are worth more than twos.
How Will Shumpert Fit In The Lineup?
The Nets now have multiple Iman Shumpert-type players. Bruce Brown and Andre Roberson are almost clone copies of Iman Shumpert. Brown especially, resembles a younger Iman Shumpert. If Brown continues to start for Brooklyn, Shumpert will likely alternate minutes with Brown. However, if the two were to play together for stretches, the defense will be lethal. Picture a lineup of Harden, Brown, Shumpert, Durant, and Green. This small-ball lineup would be incredible defensively, being able to switch everything. Likewise, this lineup can space the floor beautifully on offense. The luxury of having players like Durant and Harden is that they can create open looks for others. If Shumpert and Brown’s struggle hitting their shots, Durant and Harden are capable of creating their own shots.
The Nets have committed to small ball, especially if they don’t acquire another big man. Since the Nets won’t have a strong interior defense, they need an elite perimeter defense. Adding Iman Shumpert to the second unit helps the Nets establish their defensive identity. The media always says that every championship team needs an identity. The Nets’ defensive identity is that they can switch everything. We already know what the Nets are on offense, but recently the Nets have found themselves on defense. Even without the brilliance of Kevin Durant, the Nets are rolling. It took some time after losing Jarrett Allen, but the Nets are hitting their defensive strides. Iman Shumpert will be a crucial part of the Nets defense during the Nets championship run.