How this Suns Player can Go From a Dud to a Playoffs Difference Maker

Phoenix Suns, Landry Shamet (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Landry Shamet (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

When James Jones signed Landry Shamet to a 4-year rookie rookie extension worth $43 million, it led many to wonder whether the Phoenix Suns would celebrate or regret their decision a few years down the line. To start this season, the latter seemed more likely.

Shamet found himself on the Suns in the first place after the Brooklyn Nets swapped him for Jevon Carter and a first round draft pick. President of Basketball Operations James Jones saw the gaping hole in Phoenix’s rotation and acted accordingly.

By attacking the team’s biggest flaw head on, many Suns fans and writers saw this trade as a lop-sided victory in favor of Phoenix when it first occurred.

But then the season began, and Shamet looked far off from his 2019 NBA All-Rookie 2nd team form. On pace for a career-worst 3-point shooting season while hitting at a 36.6 percent clip, some within the Suns fandom began casting stones at the Shamet trade—and for good reason. For a shooter making over $10 million per year, a number like that is unacceptable.

However, the former Wichita State Shocker’s recent string of impressive basketball signals that the Phoenix front office might begin to see returns on their investment as early as the 2022 NBA Playoffs.

In the month of March, Shamet put up a 57.8 true shooting percentage, a +10.2 percent bump from the last time he played an adequate amount of minutes to judge properly. In doing that, Shamet finds himself boasting a true shooting percentage above the league average at his position while playing at least 20 minutes per game for the first time all year.

Onto his team though, the Suns are about to wrap up their most successful regular season in franchise history. But while on pace to win 66 games, Phoenix remains focused on their primary goal: winning an NBA championship.

When looking at why the Suns came up short last year in this quest, the team’s nonexistent scoring punch off the bench resembled an abundantly clear factor. If Phoenix wants to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy this summer, that potent bench presence needs to take form.

Cameron Johnson made significant strides this year and promises to be an even better sixth-man than he was last postseason, while Cameron Payne keeps playing with the poise and confidence of a veteran point guard.

That’s two important pieces of the puzzle right there.

But with Shamet, if his play in March can spill over into the postseason, he just might be the difference between another hurtful NBA Finals loss or triumphant victory.

The Suns starting lineup is arguably the best in the NBA. There is zero doubt in any observer’s mind as to what Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, and Deandre Ayton are capable of doing on the basketball court.

But it’s Phoenix’s flameout during the NBA Finals last year that has basketball fans still uncertain about their chances—which mainly occurred again due to Phoenix’s lacking firepower off the bench.

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This season though, they carry more weapons with Johnson and Payne. But if he keeps playing well, Shamet can really put this team over the top. Phoenix only needs some above average shooting from him, which then promises to give the Suns a third dose of bench scoring, and make winning an NBA championship a far easier task.