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Monty and the Suns need to realize that Shamet ain’t it

Landry Shamet continues to be the first guy off the bench for the Suns. And it’s getting ugly.

DENVER NUGGETS VS PHOENIX SUNS, NBA PLAYOFFS Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

There are three things that Phoenix Suns fans dread. Death. Taxes. And Landry Shamet minutes. The first two haunt our nightmares and have us poppin’ melatonin to ensure adequate sleep. The third is haunting our waking hours.

As Phoenix has navigated their first six games in the postseason, there’s one common theme that no one can understand. How and why is Landry Shamet not only getting consistent and meaningful minutes, but why is he the first guy to come off the bench for head coach Monty Williams when it is time to make a substitution for Chris Paul?

Cameron Payne has been hurt, yes, but he’s been available the past two games for the Suns. They played a total of three minutes in the Game 5 clincher against the Los Angeles Clippers. He played the garbage time minutes after the Phoenix Suns sheepishly waved the white flag in Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets. That’s it. 8 minutes of Payne in the past two games.

Perhaps CP15 isn’t healthy enough to get the nod from Monty, but the fact that Williams is relying on Landry Shamet as much as he is has the fanbase questioning his abilities as a head coach. We are questioning whether or not he has the ability to make adjustments, a topic that’s been discussed in the past.

Monty is a loyalist, somebody who believes in his players and wants to display this support through playing time. Elie Okobo? Abdel Nader? Landry Shamet joins this unique list of players that he is loyal to a fault with.

Landry Shamet, who is the fifth-highest paid pair player on the team at $10.3M a year, didn’t have the greatest regular season. He faced two separate injuries that cost him 42 games, and we didn’t see his return until the 71st game of the season after he missed 24 games with a nagging (and mysterious) foot injury.

In his final 10 games played, Shamet averaged 6 points on 36.2% shooting in 16.4 minutes played. Not exactly stellar minutes by definition, which is why his postseason appearances have been puzzling. He didn’t enter the playoffs playing at a high level yet he is being relied on to fill a gap he has yet to fill this season.

As the postseason has progressed, he has been the player that Monty has leaned into to try to find minutes to spell both Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Offensively he has been non-impactful, and that’s a nice way to put it. In his six playoff appearances he is averaging 1.7 points on 26.7% shooting. The three-point specialist is shooting 25% from beyond the arc.

Defensively, he has been a target.

In Game 1 against the Nuggets, in which Shamet played 14 minutes, Jamal Murray was actively seeking him on defense in an effort to cook him. And that he did. Per, Shamet guarded Murray for 1:14 of gametime. While guarding him, Murray had 6.2 partial possessions and scored 4 points on 2-of-2 shooting. He also had 2 assists. The Nuggets scored 12 points in just that 1:14.

Again, we question Monty’s ability to make adjustments. If he can’t see the lack of impact that Shamet has on the offensive end, coupled with his Swiss cheese defense, what else is he missing? What other adjustments could be made but simply aren’t being made because Monty doesn’t have the ability to do so?

The solution? It could begin with providing Cameron Payne more minutes, if healthy. If not, The Suns have better options.

Monty could give T.J. Warren some minutes. Warren has played a grand total of 5:48 minutes this postseason. The 29 year-old possesses a veteran presence that could, in theory, provide quality minutes while Booker is catching his breath. He is a scorer who has experience being ‘the guy’ (see: Pacers is the Bubble).

Turn to Terrence Ross and run some more Point Booker. Sure, the opposition could cook him on defense as well. But at least he’s somebody who has confidence on the offensive side of the ball. He’s somebody who wants to shoot the ball, perhaps to a fault.

Given his history, however, we’ll once again see Monty casually point to Shamet when his first round of substitutions occur in Game 2. Despite Shamet lacking confidence on both ends of the court, despite his inability to score, despite being the pigeon on defense, Monty will bring him in.

He wants to show loyalty. He wants to show his team that he believes in them, even when no one else will. He wants to show love. But as Marcus recalled in Get Rich or Die Tryin’, “Show no love. Love will get you killed”. Killed on Twitter, I guess.

Game 2 is Monday night at 7:00pm. Do yourself a favor, when Shamet enters the game, pop on to Twitter. Enjoy the show!

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