Landry Shamet entered the 2019 offseason with a great deal of hype. Shamet had been on fire in a Clipper uniform since arriving in the Tobias Harris trade, starting off hot in the team’s comeback in Boston after the trade deadline and capping off his rookie season with one of the great shots in the franchise history. It was clear that Doc Rivers was very fond of Shamet as a player and worked to involve him in the offense.
Shamet was set to be a perfect fit next to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and would even have some time to settle in before George got healthy. Unfortunately, Shamet got hurt early in the season and missed about a month, which set him back. The sophomore guard was really cooking again heading into the All-Star Break, but then the Clippers acquired Reggie Jackson, which ate into a chunk of Shamet’s minutes.
In spite of his reduced role, or maybe because of it, Shamet was laser focused on staying ready during the hiatus. Back on July 1, he told the media on a Zoom call that he spent a lot of time watching film of himself and others to figure out how to optimize his game.
“I know me personally, I’ve just thought a lot about, okay, what did I like that I was doing, what did I not like, what can I do better, what can I utilize more,” Shamet said. “We’ve just had time to think and break down our own games, watch film of other people. That’s what I’ve been doing, trying to watch teams in the past who have had championship expectations and tried to see where I fit in in those teams and, how those guys were utilized and what they did to be effective.
“I feel like I’m in a good place. I’ve done my job, done my due diligence. I’ve done everything I can to keep myself in good shape, keep my body in a good spot. So I feel like I’m in a good place.”
Unfortunately, just a couple days later, Shamet tested positive for the coronavirus, which threw another wrench into his plans. He couldn’t travel with the team to Orlando when they left on July 8, and he didn’t get to join the bubble until this past week. While Ivica Zubac — who also dealt with the virus and recently arrived to the campus site — was able to play in the third scrimmage, Shamet hasn’t seen any game action since March.
Even though Shamet has stayed connected with the team through the group chat and by watching practices on Zoom, it isn’t the same as live action, and it hasn’t been a substitute for working out. The Clippers have enough depth to weather his absence for now, and there isn’t much at stake in the seeding games. As a result, Doc Rivers said the team has no intention of rushing Shamet back.
“He did all the things that he needed to do, you know, with the running and just trying to stay in the best condition that he could,” Rivers said about Shamet today. “But it’s impossible. I mean, think about it. Landry has been off for three months, and now he’s going to practice the next two [practices] and we’re going to throw him into an NBA real game. That’s asking a lot. So I’m in no hurry with Landry. I’m going to be patient. If he plays, great. If he doesn’t, that’s fine, too. We have some time before the playoffs. That’s the good news and that’s the way we’re going to view it.”
After months of waiting for the league to come back and then having his return further delayed, it isn’t exactly easy for Shamet to patiently sit on the sidelines. He worked hard during the shutdown to prepare for this moment, and now the circumstances have changed. He acknowledged that he was frustrated by testing positive, but he doesn’t want that twist of fate to affect the rest of his season.
“It was unfortunate, frustrating for sure because you know, felt like I had a really good quarantine,” Shamet said on Tuesday. “But I mean, it ran its course. I did what I had to do, stayed locked in like I could, and I’m here, and that’s all that matters. I’m here before the season starts, and we’re in it for the long haul. So I’m just excited to go through my process and get back to, you know, to me.”
The player that Shamet is trying to get back to being thrilled Clipper fans in his first postseason appearance. He has earned the opportunity to do that again.