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Phoenix Suns 2021-22 player previews: Landry Shamet looks to expand his bag

Gerald Bourguet Avatar
October 12, 2021

For the first three years of his NBA career, Landry Shamet has been known for pretty much one thing. It was the first words out of general manager James Jones’ mouth when he was asked what the 24-year-old guard would provide for the Phoenix Suns.

“Shooting on the perimeter,” Jones said at Media Day. “I think he gives us a versatile guard/wing. He can handle it, he can shoot it, shoot it at a great clip.”

Now on his fourth team in as many seasons, Shamet will be expected to provide the trademark skill that has put him on the map in the pros: shooting, shooting and more shooting.


Make no mistake about it: Landry Shamet is indeed an elite shooter. The advanced metrics detail how effective he is moving off the ball, how he’s one of the more dangerous spot-up threats in the league and how he can spread the floor for any modern NBA offense.

Last year, Shamet averaged 9.3 points a night while making 38.7 percent of his 5.5 3-point attempts per game. He only shot 40.8 percent from the field, but that’s because the vast majority of his shots were coming from beyond the arc. In fact, more than 70 percent of his career field goal attempts have come from downtown.

The fact that he’s so good from long range certainly helps paint this picture of a one-dimensional spot-up shooter. Shamet made 42.3 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s, shot 46.4 percent on corner triples, and according to The Bball Index, he ranked in the 90th percentile in perimeter shooting and 91st percentile in 3-point gravity.

Considering that he was in the 95th percentile in made 3-pointers per 75 possessions and averaged 1.12 points per possession on spot-ups (92nd percentile), despite only 17.2 percent of his 3-point attempts being “open,” yes, the numbers indicate that Landry Shamet should be known primarily for his shooting prowess.

But after being traded for the third time in his young career, Shamet is hoping this new change of scenery allows him to show more than what he’s been through his first three seasons.

“My goal in camp is to come in, identify my role as quickly as possible, whatever that looks like,” he said. “Whether it’s playing off the ball, being a threat shooting the ball, or if I’m needed in a more ball-dominant way, I feel like I can play both positions and that’s something I want to be able to do and show. So whatever it is, I feel like I’ll be able to help us from an IQ standpoint, knowing how to play with my teammates and get guys open, get into complicated actions and get easy buckets.”

Citing a desire to make life easier on Chris Paul and Devin Booker in the playmaking department, Shamet feels he hasn’t yet gotten the opportunity to show all that he has to offer.

At Media Day, he mentioned a conversation he had in the locker room with Mikal Bridges, a fellow 2018 draftee, about how he’d become pegged as a spot-up shooter and not much else despite playing point guard in college.

In his final season at Wichita State, Shamet averaged 5.2 assists a night, and although shooting is the meat and potatoes of his game, the former Shocker is hoping to add a few extra side dishes this year.

“Very different, stylistically, how I’ve played so far in the NBA as opposed to college, but it’s still there,” Shamet said of his playmaking. “Those tools are still there, and it’s something I want to be able to show and be able to do. So it’s exciting, this type of offense will allow opportunities to do that. Playing for Monty, I know him well and what he likes to do.

“But yeah, like I said, I’m gonna take camp as just analyzing things, figuring out, ‘Okay, how can I help? In what situations can I fit in and assert myself maybe on the ball? How can I get guys open off the ball using my movement?’ And it’s just gonna be a feeling-out process.”


How that process unfolds remains to be seen. Shamet only made 26 percent of his pull-up 3s last year, so putting the ball in his hands probably won’t unlock his own shot creation. As a ball-handler, he didn’t drive often, ranking in the 50th percentile in adjusted drives per 75 possessions, and when he did, he didn’t get to the rim much (29th percentile).

But he did make good passes on the rare occasions that he drove, posting a 14.7 percent drive assist rate, which ranked in the 91st percentile. His stats as a playmaker illustrate a similar narrative: Shamet didn’t get many opportunities to playmake last year, but he was quietly effective when he did:

  • Passing creation volume: 17th percentile
  • Pass creation points per 75 possessions: 50th percentile
  • Passing efficiency: 20th percentile
  • Passing creation quality: 78th percentile

The good news is, he has the full support and empowerment of his head coach in Monty Williams, who is familiar with Shamet’s game based on their time together with the Philadelphia 76ers.

“In so many ways, that’s what we hope to do with him is to let him play,” Williams said. “Not to say that other teams didn’t, but I’m hopeful that in our program, he can show more of himself, because that’s what we thought of him when we had him in Philly was that he could handle the ball more or he could playmake more. And we hope that it takes a lot of pressure off of Chris and Book and Cam [Payne] to not have to make the plays all the time, to have a guy on the second side that you can throw the ball to and he can shoot the ball but also make plays. I think it will allow him to show some of the stuff that he showed in college.”

Shamet will probably never be a primary playmaker again, but as a secondary creator, the Suns’ seventh-ranked offense from last year might be even deadlier with the floor-spacing, 3-point shooting and passing he can provide.

Williams even said he envisions lineups where Paul, Shamet and Booker share the floor together, and having a coach who trusts and is familiar with his skill-set could go a long way in unlocking the next layers of Shamet’s game, as was the case with Cam Payne. Williams had just joined Brett Brown’s coaching staff as an assistant the year that the Sixers drafted Shamet 26th overall. The young guard said Monty made it his mission to take him under his wing, both on and off the court.

“Just instilling this professionalism and just holding me accountable, kept me very even,” Shamet recalled. “If I played really well for a while, he would find a way to bring me back down to this midline. If I wasn’t playing very well, he’d find a way to joke with me, build confidence in workouts, get me back up to that midline. So he made it his goal that year to really take me under his wing and we grew off the court. He would send me books and excerpts and stuff to read, so definitely like more of a role model than a coach in that sense.”

For his part, Williams called it a “thrill” to coach Shamet again, especially since he says the Suns tried to trade for the 3-point sharpshooter for the last two years.

“With guys like Landry, you don’t have to do much to be a role model for a guy like that,” Williams said. “I that’s pretty humbling for him to say that, but he’s just one of those guys. He’s a lot like Dario [Saric] for me: I coached him, I know what he’s about, I want to see him do well, and I’m just delighted that I get to coach him again.”

For a guy who’s bounced around the league, it’d be easy to lose confidence in yet another new environment, especially with the goal in mind of branching into more playmaking. But thanks to Williams’ support and his own mindset about being traded from the 76ers to the Clippers and then to the Brooklyn Nets, Landry Shamet seems poised to expand the bag — both in terms of his skill-set and his potential earnings as a restricted free agent next summer.

“It’s my fourth team in four years, so there’s times where you are thinking, ‘Damn, I haven’t stuck anywhere yet. Like why, what’s going on?’” he said. “But you know, also it’s good to remind myself, somehow I’m ending up on teams who have gone further, now have higher expectations. I still am ending up on competitors, and I think there’s value in that, seeing that, recognizing that it is kind of circumstantial. It’s not that I’m not good enough or whatever. I know I am and I’m going to be, so I see it more as, ‘This team taking me in sees value in me and hopefully adding to their group,’ and that’s what I want to do.”

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