Clippers not using Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet’s youth as an excuse vs. Warriors
LOS ANGELES – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet are coming off terrific regular seasons for the L.A. Clippers. Their postseason matchup presents a much bigger challenge, however, with the defending champion Golden State Warriors waiting.
Gilgeous-Alexander had a great season for the Clippers, and is the only lottery pick to start for a playoff team. He’s averaging 10.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game on 47.6 percent shooting from the field and 36.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
The numbers don’t particularly stand out when you compare them to likely rookie of the year Luka Doncic or likely runner-up Trae Young. He does, however, have an almost identical impact on the team has been irreplaceable. He finished the season off strong, averaging 14.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game on 52 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc.
“It’s a good experience,” said the rookie nicknamed Slinqq by his teammates. “They say there’s no other basketball like it for me to experience in my rookie year, not a lot of guys get to do and I’m fortunate for it.
“They’re obviously really talented and they come at you for 48 minutes, so we need to withstand their talent level and their energy level for 48 minutes.”
He may not have been here the entire year, but rookie Landry Shamet has been spectacular for the Clipper since the trade deadline deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Shamet was given a sizable opportunity with the Clippers, including 23 starts, averaging 10.9 points, 2.2 rebounds 2.3 assists, and 2.7 three-pointers per game on 41.4 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent from beyond the arc.
He’s been a little hit or miss for the Clippers of late, but Shamet’s involvement in the offense a la J.J. Redick is what makes them dangerous on that end.
“We just have to play our brand of basketball,” said Shamet. “I think we can get into conversation and schematics and what we’re gonna do here and there, but we just have to play our brand. That’s playing together, trusting each other, defending, rebounding. Offensively — just playing together, we know we have options and multiple guys who can score and be threats and we want to utilize that.”
Despite starting a 20-year old point guard and a 21-year old shooting guard, Doc Rivers isn’t using the team’s youth as an excuse against the best team in the NBA.
“It’s funny,” Doc Rivers said as he recalled a story. “I asked Sham the other day, ‘You guys were a winning team at Wichita state?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘So you went through a tunnel, got out, you’re in the NBA and you don’t know how to win anymore?’ He says, ‘No, I know how to win.’ so I said, ‘Okay, so we’re good.’
“Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t know what winning looks like. Shai was on a winning team, too.”
“Not a lot of teams have ever had two rookies starting going into the playoffs, but we do, and Zu is just like a rookie, so that experience for them is gonna be amazing. I want them to have an experience, I want to think about winning, those experiences are overrated sometimes, we want them to have a great experience. And they’re gonna have to grow up fast, but I think they will.”
We’ll see just how much the youth plays a factor when Game 1 between the Clippers and Warriors tips off at 5:00 PM PST on ABC.