CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers are the reigning NBA Champions after an historic comeback against the Golden State Warriors in The Finals, but despite being at the top of the basketball mountain, one player is not happy with the level of production he had during the 2015-2016 season.
As the Cavaliers work their way through training camp in preparation for the 2016-2017 season, shooting guard Iman Shumpert is focused on redeveloping his offensive game after averaging a career-worst 5.8 points per game during the regular season.
But those closest to Shumpert on the team are not concerned about his points-per-game average so long as he does what it is necessary for the Cavaliers to be successful as a team.
“Oh, we don’t care about numbers as long as we win, and he had to sacrifice like Kevin (Love) had to do the last two years,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “If anyone has suffered, it’s been Kevin because he’s been a perennial all-star, top-10 player in this league.
“When you come to a championship team, you’ve got to sacrifice, and that’s what it’s all about, so we don’t look for Shump to score points and assists. We look for him to defend and be the best defender on the court, and we look for him to knock down his open shots, play off of LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin.”
While Shumpert was disappointed in his offensive production in 2015-2016, it was one of his shots that kept the Cavaliers afloat in Game 7 of The Finals against the Warriors.
Although point guard Kyrie Irving scored nine points at halftime of Game 7, the Cavaliers got six points from Shumpert, who was responsible for Cleveland’s only first-half three-pointer.
That jumper turned into a four-point play as he was fouled on the release of the ball.
“In the first half, right across from our bench, that was a big play,” Lue said. “It was good because he knocked down an open shot, got a four-point play and gave us a little bit of momentum going into the first half of that game. I thought when he made that shot, his defense picked up. Picking up Steph Curry full court, frustrating him and being physical with him, that was a big shot for us.”
Although the Cavaliers use Shumpert more in the role of a defensive stopper rather than an offensive weapon, they know he is capable of helping on both ends of the floor when necessary.
“Shump can make shots,” Lue said. “I just think we can’t get sped up offensively. We’ve got to score the ball.
“We need him to make open shots, running pick-and-rolls, taking open shots and just don’t get caught up in the offensive product because he’s so much more valuable than the offensive end. Shump can shoot the ball, and we’re going to expect him to make shots like he did the year before.”