Twitter is a platform prime for over reaction, and there was certainly a lot of that earlier this year, when the Clippers were struggling. Don’t think the Clipper faithful have forgotten that some of you disparaged Landry Shamet earlier this season. You know who you are.
The weird part of all of this? Shamet hasn’t really had a true slump. After suffering an ankle injury in the tenth game of the season against the Toronto Raptors, Shamet was held out for a month. Subsequently, in his next eight games, Sham shot 51.5% from three, 51.1% from the floor and averaged 9.3 points a game. While there was a down period earlier this month that included a five-game stretch where Sham only averaged 5.2 points on 28.1% shooting, Landry has been fantastic since.
He is currently riding a seven game streak of 10 or more points, including a Clippers career high of 22 points in last Friday’s crucial win against the Miami Heat. In Paul George’s absence, Sham’s usage has skyrocketed, and he has been one of the better players on the floor for LA. He is making timely shots, has shown increased confidence in his handles and passing, and has improved immensely on the defensive end. He is averaging 30 minutes a game in January and honestly deserves these minutes. He has been doing everything right.
What Landry has brought to the table in the past for LA is relief. For a team that relies on heavy isolation offense, Landry is that open, knockdown shooter on the perimeter that every team covets as an option to help space the floor. Now, we are seeing a player that could be much more than a bail out.
We are starting to see a guy who takes the ball into the lane with no fear. Someone who is improving both his mid-paint float game and ability to find bigs underneath when the defense collapses on the drive. Someone who will take the ball up the court and get the team into sets. Someone who is starting to re-utilize his previous point-guard skills due to the dearth of lead guards on the Clippers, and excelling at it.
Here’s a fun stat: Shamet is playing the most minutes he ever has in a month in his young career, and is averaging less than a turnover a game. For someone who is not used to having extended time with the ball in hands, he has been efficient, effective, and safe with it. For a team that struggles at times with turnovers, this is special.
This month, Landry is posting a 117.9 offensive rating and a net rating of 8.4. While I think his role as a ball handler will decrease slightly when the Clippers are fully healthy again, Shamet needs to keep being himself for the Clippers to keep up this fantastic month they are having and have it translate to the rest of the season. Similarly, Doc and the coaching staff need to keep putting Shamet in situations to succeed.
In the past eight games we have seen more plays run for Landry and more opportunities for him to score than in any stretch prior. The results are right there in our faces — 6-2 with that fluky Hawks game — and Landry is turning a corner that many expected him to this season. This is where we are seeing Landry improve from year one to two. He is becoming more well-rounded with each game, and this confidence is doing wonders for the team and him individually.
Landry Shamet will be a very important piece for this franchise for years to come. He is showing improvement in all facets of his game, and will only continue to get better under the tutelage of the Clips vets and a championship coaching staff. Keeping him heavily involved in the offense has helped LA win tough ball games, and come playoff time, Sham will need to continue to hit shots, run the offense when needed, play the scrappy D that he has steadily been improving upon and be the high-IQ young guard (only 22!) we’ve come to love. Keep splashin’ Landry.