LA Clippers: Role Players Searching For Role

LA Clippers (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LA Clippers (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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LA Clippers Landry Shamet
LA Clippers Landry Shamet (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Landry Shamet

It’s been an unfortunate season for sophomore guard Landry Shamet. He started by hurting his wrist in the offseason, playing through the preseason with it wrapped up. Even though the team said he was good to go when the season started his shot looked off. His shooting stroke wasn’t as smooth as it normally looks- it was clear he was still dealing with discomfort.

In the middle of November, Shamet was sidelined with an ankle sprain– in a lot of ways it was a blessing in disguise as it afforded him time to fully rehab his wrist while he let his ankle heal. Returning from the injury the stroke looked a lot more natural, but he was still playing off some rust. Since then, he has had some decent outings, but something still seems off. His role has fluctuated, like much of the team, and hasn’t appeared to adapted too well to the fluidity of his position on the team.

For the first ten games of the season, Landry was a part of the starting unit before the ankle injury. He has only been called on to start games five times since returning in mid-December. The Clippers have gone 10-5 in games that he’s been the starting shooting guard. In the contests that he has come off the bench for the team has gone 4-4.

In terms of shooting, he looks to be hitting around the same percentages as last season. In his rookie year, Shamet was shooting 41% from deep- a number that turned a lot of heads considering he was the twenty-sixth pick in the draft. This season that number has dipped down to 37%. That percentage is somewhat misleading to anyone that has watched Shamet play- his shooting has been as inconsistent as his position with the starting lineup, having some amazing displays followed by absolute duds.

Taking a deeper dive into his shooting splits, one will find that he’s as specialist as specialists come. When it comes to catch-and-shoot threes alone the 22-year-old is shooting 38%, and that percentage takes a significant dip every time he dribbles the ball. If he takes three dribbles or more before shooting a three he’s only hitting them at a clip of 25%, per

Perhaps the biggest crack in Shamet’s game has been his defense this year. He has been dying on screens and has been dropped off the handle more than once, with his knees looking very shaky on other possessions. This is ultimately why his role on the bench seems to be an odd one. The Clippers have two of the most gifted offensive bench players in the league with Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Those two players also have their own defensive limitations- not the ideal marriage with a player who’s not the strongest defender and needs to find a rhythm when scoring.

It’s surprising to find that he’s only played twelve total possessions in a lineup that consists of Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Ivica Zubac. Those five seem like the best candidates for a starting five the Clippers can roll out on the floor. It slides Paul George to small forward which seems like a natural fit for him. While Kawhi’s game and size is the perfect archetype of the modern power forward.

There are also three elite defenders in that lineup making the task of hiding Shamet’s shortcomings on that end much easier. Not to mention moving Maurice Harkless to the bench helps with the second unit’s defensive struggles.

If the Clippers run with that combination of guys they can start games by running floppy action which gives Shamet three screens to run off to find a good look from three thus getting him going early. Watch any Lob City Clippers game and you’ll see the same actions were run for JJ Redick, and it worked.

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Perhaps once PG makes his return and if the team can maintain the rest of its health we’ll see Doc and Co. give this lineup a shot. The numbers and eye test make too much sense to not give it a chance.