Few Suns have seemed as downright unwanted by the fans the last couple of years than Landry Shamet. He isn’t prominent enough to generate the kind of passionate debate that Deandre Ayton does, but it seems like a running theme among Phoenix Suns fans (who often disagree about almost everything else) that Shamet should take a seat in favor of...almost anyone else on the Suns’ bench.
And if we’re being totally honest, he’s given fans no particular reason to have the warm and fuzzies. He’s been a statistical negative on both ends of the court for the majority of his two seasons in Phoenix. He’s a below-average efficiency shooter despite very modest volume, is not effective in most defensive matchups, and showcases below mediocre playmaking skills for a guard.
He’d had a rather disappointing playoffs, too. He was abysmal in the first round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers, shooting just 3/14, and leaving MANY Suns fans in disbelief at the fact that he was getting much more playing time than proven shooters like Damion Lee, Terrence Ross, and TJ Warren.
Well, then came Game 4 Sunday day night. The much-maligned Shamet was on fire, shooting 6/9 from the field, hitting five threes, and tallying 19 points. Crucially, 14 of those points came in the final quarter, when Shamet was the Suns’ leading scorer. He scored more 4th quarter points than Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Deandre Ayton combined.
These weren’t empty buckets in a blowout. These were big buckets in a close, must-win playoff game. The Nuggets were clawing back desperately, but it seemed like every time down the stretch when they had clawed the lead back to five or six points the ball would find Shamet in the corner for a devastating three.
None of this changes the player than Shamet is. And it likely won’t end the calls for Monty Williams to stop relying so much on the 26 year-old. And there’s a good chance that perspective will have plenty to recommend it. It’s not likely that this sort of performance will ever be the norm for Shamet.
But let’s appreciate that for one night in May, under the glare of the playoff lights, Landry Shamet was a hero for the Suns. Not the one we wanted. But the one we needed right then.