Here’s one of those times I hope I’m wrong. Because I like Iman Shumpert and I like the way he plays. But I think he’s making a mistake. By choosing to stay in this NBA draft, he has left himself open to the possibility of not being drafted.
I have to say I’m surprised. I thought he’d explore his options and remove his name from NBA consideration, thereby returning to Georgia Tech for his senior season. But it was Paul Hewitt, the man who signed and coached Shumpert, who once said it’s hard for a guy who enters the process of professional basketball to step away. (That’s why Hewitt, and most everyone else, was surprised Gani Lawal removed his name two years ago.)
At Tech, Shumpert was known for being a fierce defender and a one-on-one offensive operator. In the eyes of NBA scouts, he’ll be viewed more critically. He’s a big guard — he’s 6-foot-5 — and that never hurts, but this part usually does: He’s neither a true distributor nor a consistent shooter.
We’ll never know if a season under Brian Gregory would have made any difference in Shumpert’s development, and there’s a chance Shumpert, who’s strong-willed and who had tactical issues with Hewitt, wouldn’t have liked the new man at all. So maybe this was just a case of a player preferring to bet on himself, as opposed to hitching a ride with a coach he didn’t really know.
I should, however, tell you this. When I watched the three leading in-state juniors last season, I saw them this way:
• Trey Thompkins, Georgia forward: Was ready to leave.
• Travis Leslie, Georgia guard: Wasn’t quite ready but was close enough to try it.
• Iman Shumpert, Tech guard: Wasn’t ready and shouldn’t go.
All three are gone. I must, however, note that nbadraft.net had Shumpert going 46th — there are only 60 spots — in 2012. Even after he’d declared, he still didn’t crack this year’s mock.
By Mark Bradley