Iman Shumpert – 2018-’19
Iman Shumpert will live in Sacramento Kings lore for the foreseeable future. He arrived at the deadline in February of 2018, along with Joe Johnson in a three-team trade which saw the Kings ship off George Hill. Johnson was waived before appearing in a game, and Shumpert didn’t participate for the remainder of that season while nursing knee and foot injuries.
Shumpert opted into his $11 million player option that summer, and the Kings were glad that they did.
He made his Kings debut at the start of the 2018-’19 season, and was a key component to the Kings surprising success that year. His numbers weren’t spectacular, though he did average his highest scoring total in five years. He enjoyed the best shooting year of his career since his sophomore season with the New York Knicks in 2012-’13, hitting nearly 37 percent of his threes.
But it was Shumpert’s locker room presence and cohesive attitude that benefitted the Kings in ways they apparently didn’t know or didn’t appreciate.
He was engaged and vocal, yet was able to keep things light and fun. He was certainly a seasoned veteran by this point, but he had a playful attitude that meshed well with the youthful squad. Shumpert would dance on the bench with the youngins to the pulsating music that played before tip-off. He would be the first to find his teammates for high fives, and be one of the more animated celebrators on the bench squad.
His biggest contribution, however, was through a simple nickname. We’re not really sure where it comes from or how it originated, and maybe only a select few do. But Shumpert began to call the Kings “The Scores”.
He would make their presence known in the pre-game hallway: “Scores is here!”. He handed out snack goodies to people working in the Kings’ offices, “From The Scores!”. There were t-shirts made. The Sacramento Kings had an identity.
Some, including myself, believe that the Kings lost that identity when Shumpert was traded at the deadline in 2019. They’ve never regained it either. At the time, Sacramento was 28-25 and a game and a half behind the 8th and final playoff spot. In the year-plus since the trade, the Kings are 39-54. Coincidence? Maybe.
Either way, Iman Shumpert is one of the greatest one-hit wonders in Kings’ history, and it has little to do with his on-court performance.