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Another 2018 first-round pick on the Phoenix Suns joined Mikal Bridges with a new contract extension on Monday.
No, unfortunately not Deandre Ayton. Landry Shamet, of course!
On Sunday, when Bridges’ new four-year, $90 million deal was reported, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski snuck another interesting tidbit in there: The Suns had discussed extensions with both Ayton and Shamet, who has yet to play his first regular-season game in Phoenix.
Less than 24 hours later, the former Wichita State product earned a four-year, $43 million extension. According to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, the fourth year is a team option. Only the first two years are guaranteed, per The Athletic’s John Hollinger.
Just like we did with Bridges, it’s time to play Grade the Deal.
Landry Shamet’s value to the Suns
The reason this deal is unexpected isn’t because of the market value at play here. For just under $11 million a year, a shooter of Shamet’s caliber is a pretty good get, even with his porous defense included.
Last season, he averaged 9.3 points per game while making 38.7 percent of his 5.5 3-point attempts a night. More than 70 percent of his career field goal attempts have come from downtown, which is a good thing considering how well he fared as a shooter last season, per The Bball Index:
- Catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage (42.3 percent): 86th percentile
- Corner 3-point percentage (46.4 percent): 82nd percentile
- Perimeter shooting: 96th percentile
- 3-point gravity: 91st percentile
- Made 3-pointers per 75 possessions: 95th percentile
- Spot up points per possession (1.12): 92nd percentile
His prowess as a 3-point shooter cannot be overstated.
However, as we covered in our Landry Shamet player preview, there’s more to his game than simply being a one-dimensional shooter.
Shamet is still only 24 years old, and he’s already a Monty Williams favorite because of what he brings to the table as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker.
“My hope for Landry is that we can utilize more of his game,” Williams said after the Suns’ first preseason game. “I just remember a little bit of what they told me in college where he handled the ball a bit more. And then in Philly when we had him, you could see some of it in his game, but we had other guys that needed the ball, so he didn’t get a chance to do it as much. But we saw him tonight play off the dribble. His passing in the paint was really good.”
The Suns are already proving they’re willing to give him more freedom to create on offense, and his ability to do so alongside Cameron Payne and JaVale McGee should help anchor the second unit.
“My goal in camp is to come in, identify my role as quickly as possible, whatever that looks like,” Shamet said at Media Day. “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.”
Grade the Deal
The reason this deal is surprising isn’t the number of years or dollars being committed. Rather, it’s the fact that the Suns were willing to extend a player they’ve only seen in practice and in preseason for four years while Deandre Ayton didn’t get the max deal he was looking for.
However, anyone interpreting that as a slap in the face for Ayton needs to consider that these contracts are apples and oranges. Shamet will only be making about $10 million a year, and his contract was not the reason Phoenix failed to reach and agreement with DA. It’s not like Phoenix chose Bridges and Shamet extensions over DA; the team could’ve gotten all three done if it wanted.
In other words, Ayton’s situation is bad in its own right, but it shouldn’t be compounded by the Suns getting decent value with a Shamet extension. The optics and the timing of that agreement were admittedly bad, but Ayton not getting the max was about Ayton, not Shamet’s or Bridges’ deals.
Furthermore, much like Cam Payne, a former Monty Williams favorite now has the chance to expand his game like never before in Phoenix. As The Bball Index points out, Shamet has playmaking chops, but he’s rarely gotten the opportunity to show much of them in Philadelphia, Los Angeles or Brooklyn:
- Passing creation volume: 17th percentile
- Pass creation points per 75 possessions: 50th percentile
- Passing creation quality: 78th percentile
Shamet looked comfortable in the preseason, averaging 11.0 points and 2.8 assists in his 21.9 minutes per game, all while shooting 48.4 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from long range. Preseason is preseason, but his familiarity with new teammates, his shooting and his playmaking all held up to the eye test.
If Shamet can continue to spread the floor at an elite level and help this top-10 offense hum with his passing and dribbling in the second unit, he’ll easily live up to his contract value. Even if he doesn’t, the team option and the sheer movability of his salary protects the Suns against that worst-case scenario. He can’t be traded this season due to the timing of this contract signing (he can’t be traded for six months, which pushes him past the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline), but he’ll be trade-eligible by the offseason if need be.
The disappointment over Ayton’s lack of a deal is palpable and understandable. But getting decent value out of Landry Shamet — even with all his defensive flaws in mind — shouldn’t be diminished because of it.