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Landry Shamet revival is coming just in time

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Los Angeles Clippers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Even with his tough start this season, 23-year-old Landry Shamet ranked high among the league’s 3-point shooters. Going into this year, his 3-point shooting hovered at just above 40 percent in his two-year career. It’s dropped a bit, particularly after his tough December and January when he shot 25 and 32.7 percent ... and became the target of virtual boo-birds.

But among the Nets, his current career number of 39.2 which is higher than teammates Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden. Only Joe Harris, who’s now seventh all-time in career 3-point shooting, is ahead of him. And over the last five games, Shamet is averaging 12 points a game on 40 percent shooting from deep, topped by the last two, hitting 9-of-22.

For Shamet, it was a the first shooting slump of his career, which has included stints with teams who need his shooting to complement superstars in Philly, then L.A. He said coming out of it was mental, not a tweak in mechanics.

“This just happened to be my first big kind of downtrend,” Shamet said. “Just change a few things mentally, stay solid, simplify. It’s not the end of the world. It’s basketball. It’s just knowing what I’m capable of and knowing that I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing, working hard, taking care of my body, doing everything I’m supposed to be doing. It’s mostly mental...

“I’m just getting back to me and trusting my work and what I do on a day-to-day basis, not so caught up in outcomes and a couple shots or whatever,” Shamet said.

He may also have been getting some encouragement from his coach and teammates. Just before he hit three three’s in rapid order on Thursday, Harden could be seen giving him what sure looked like encouragement. And Steve Nash has repeatedly said the Nets see other aspects of his game, like defense and ball-handling, that can be developed. During his slump. Nash made those comments more than once.

“He’s finding his rhythm, his confidence,” Nash said. “We all know [what] he can be, and hopefully he can continue to build some momentum and belief and confidence and let it fly. He’s always worked hard, he’s always competed. He’s one of the guys you know is going to stick to the game plan, both ends of the floor. Making shots is the last step, and he’s starting to make them.”

The Nets certainly need Shamet’s production off the bench where offensive production has been disappointing, particularly after the Nets cleaned out the garage to find assets to acquire Harden. Post-game, Harden offered more praise for Shamet, who did play a combo guard role at Wichita.

“Landry can help us in a variety of ways,” Harden said. “He’s athletic, he can shoot the ball and he’s very smart. And just knows how to play the game of basketball the right way. Hopefully, he can get his confidence back. The last few games, he’s been shooting the ball better.

“Tonight, obviously, he had (22) points. As we don’t want KD and Kyrie out, this is an opportunity for guys like Landry and Bruce (Brown) and some of our role players to get their confidence and get some playing time, and obviously, we don’t want to lose but all of it is a learning experience.”

There’s mutual respect as well, making one wonder if Shamet is a Harden “project.”

“I’m still kind of learning him a little bit, but I’ve watched him, guarded him with the Rockets and stuff,” said Shamet. “So I kind of understand where he likes to play and where he likes his guys filling in behind him. But he is a great basketball player, has great vision, willing. So still getting comfortable to the fullest extent of finding my little pockets and where I can get openings and make it easier for him.”

Shamet also showed some of what Nash was talking about on Saturday, taking care of the rock while Harden was on the bench and playing hard on D. And with the Nets confidence in their scouting and development staffs, expect them to add to his responsibilities and minutes. It would be a big deal. Last season with the Clippers, he started 30 of 53 games before COVID laid him low, averaging 9.3 points with a shooting line of 40/38/86.

Shamet is also still on his rookie deal. The Nets won’t have to make a decision on extending him till next October and any extension they sign wouldn’t take effect until 2022-23. On a team with big contracts on one end and a slew of non-guaranteed, vets minimum and two-way deals on the other, Shamet’s rookie deal is a big positive.