Iman Shumpert

NBA Draft profile: Iman Shumpert, how much can combine help him?


Iman Shumpert won the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.

He was maybe the physically gifted player in the class. He had a vertical leap of 42 inches, which was best this year and the only two people recently at the combine to do better were Vince Carter and Nate Robinson. Shumpert’s standing vertical was 36.5 inches (best since Nick Young four years ago). He had the third best bench press at the combine.

At 6’5” he stood out as the tallest and longest in the point guard class.

Tall and athletic will get you a long look from scouts.

But remember last year’s draft, when we said it was difficult to judge Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal out of Georgia Tech because the team’s guard play was so bad? That was Shumpert. This season Shumpert shot 40.6 percent overall and 27.8 percent from three, and his shot selection is poor. He’s a point guard with an unimpressive 1.5 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. That or you can convert him to a shooting guard, except he can’t really shoot from the outside. There are real questions about what kind of impact he can have at the NBA level where his athleticism is less of an advantage.

And that becomes the choice GMs have to make about this guy — what is his potential? All world athlete but right now not a great basketball player. Can you make him one?

And how big a risk are you willing to take on that potential? Both our own NBC Rotoworld Mock Draft and Chad Ford at ESPN have him going in the second round. Which makes sense, sign him to a minimum one-year deal, send him to the D-League and see if he can develop or not. But the trusted folks at DraftExpress have him going 22nd to Denver. They think somebody will be willing to take a real shot on potential late in an unimpressive first round.

He might be able to become a lock down defender at the next level, but his offense has got to improve dramatically to even get a real shot at that.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.