Fantasy Basketball Sleeper Radar: Iman Shumpert
His ACL tear in April of 2012 didn’t garner the attention of Derrick Rose’s, but New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert did return to action last season and averaged 6.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game while starting all 45 regular season games he played. He had some trouble with his surgically-repaired left knee during the playoffs, but saved his best game for last by scoring 19 points (6-for-10 from the floor; 5-for-6 on three-pointers) with three rebounds as the Knicks were eliminated by the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of their second round series.
Shumpert is considered the frontrunner to open the season as the starting shooting guard for the Knicks, with reigning Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith working his way back from knee surgery in mid-July and facing a five-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy once he is healthy enough to play. But should fantasy basketball owners pay attention to Shumpert on draft day?
Shumpert started very slowly when he returned from his knee injury last January, averaging just 4.6 points per game and making a little less than 30 percent of his shots from the floor over his first 17 games. But he showed improvement from March 1 on, averaging 8.1 points per game while making nearly 45 percent of his field goal attempts and over 43 percent of his three-pointers as he played a bit more (24 minutes per game) over the final 28 games of the regular season.
Shumpert played some point guard as a rookie in 2011-2012, and he could see some time there during the coming season depending on how coach Mike Woodson deploys his backcourt, particularly if Raymond Felton and/or Beno Udrih have trouble staying on the floor.
Smith will surely play significant minutes once he is healthy and the suspension is behind him, and the Knicks added Tim Hardaway Jr. in June’s draft. So if Shumpert fails to assert himself as a clear-cut starter early in the season, there’s a real chance his playing time dwindles quickly. That adds some downside for fantasy owners, and Shumpert’s shooting percentage (39.9 percent career from the floor) needs to improve for his overall offensive production to go up in any substantial way. But I think he can be a solid contributor in multiple categories (points, rebounds, assists and steals), with some upside potential if he can keep a prominent role all season.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.