Clippers fans held their breath when Landry Shamet was helped off the court last night after injuring his ankle. He was later seen on crutches, with fans fearing the worst. The Clippers conducted an MRI on Shamet this morning and found that the sharpshooter has a Grade 2 sprain of his left ankle.
Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Shamet “avoided a significant injury,” but a timetable for his return to the floor has yet to be determined.
Shamet could be out for a while, which means that other Clippers will need to step up in his stead, notably Terance Mann and Jerome Robinson. Neither of the other Clippers’ young guards have been a real part of Doc Rivers’ rotation despite hype in preseason and training camp, and at least one (if not both) of them will have chances to prove themselves in Shamet’s absence.
The most direct inheritor of Shamet’s minutes might be veteran Rodney McGruder, but Rodney has struggled mightily on the offensive end this season; he has scored just one bucket in well over 50 minutes played. His confidence is clearly gone at the moment, and while that hasn’t effected his defense or energy, the Clippers need offense right now with Shamet gone, and McGruder just isn’t providing that right now. Still, he has a proven track record of being a solid NBA shooter, and sooner or later, his shot will return. Now would be an ideal time for that to happen, and Rodney too might get an extended look or two, especially in Kawhi’s load management games.
However, heavier-duty reinforcements could well be on the way. Paul George is expected to make his return on Thursday in New Orleans, and while the Clippers might ease him into action, he should start right away. Because of that, Shamet might have had to retreat to the reserve unit anyway, so the rotations won’t be as upset as they might have been. Still, it has yet to be determined how much George will play when he does return, and Shamet’s injury still opens up that backup slot for one of Mann, Robinson, or McGruder.
Landry’s loss will hurt the Clippers’ offensively, as his shooting was a key component to the Clippers’ spacing around Kawhi Leonard. Fortunately, George is an excellent shooter himself, so he could fill the vacuum a bit in that specific regard as well. While the Clippers have the star power and depth to survive Landry’s absence, he’s an integral part to the team, and has played well this season despite some inconsistent shooting. Hopefully he recovers quickly and thoroughly so that the Clippers can deploy their full rotation sooner than later.