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Landry Shamet Could Be Key to Clippers Acquiring Star Free Agents

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The 21-year-old leads all rookies in 3PT% and is blossoming into an impact player in an expanded role with the Clippers. Could he be a big reason free agents are attracted to L.A.?

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Has there been a quicker fan favorite in L.A. than Landry Shamet? After coming to L.A. from Philadelphia in the Tobias Harris trade, Shamet stepped into a bigger role almost immediately. In his first game with the Clippers, Shamet poured in 17 points, including four fourth quarter threes, to propel the Clippers to a historic, 28 point comeback over the Celtics in Boston. Shamet hasn’t yet cooled off, as he is shooting 43.8 percent from three in 10 games played with the Clips. His impact with the starting five (as well as fellow 21-year-old Ivica Zubac) has been felt rather quickly, as the new and improved SGA-Bev-Gallo-Sham-Zu lineup has a net rating of +14.5. Where the starting lineup was a huge disappointment with Marcin Gortat and Avery Bradley, this new, young, and improved five is scorching teams on both ends and have the Clips within reach of the Western Conference Playoffs.

Shamet is averaging 12.4 points in 29 minutes so far in LA. These are improvements upon what he was getting in a Philadelphia system, where he was behind one of the best shooters of all time in JJ Redick. Being behind Redick, however, was a huge blessing for the young sniper, as he got an opportunity to be around the former Clipper on a daily basis and learn from him. Shamet himself has said that Redick helped his progress immensely and that learning from him every day was hugely beneficial.

“I learned a ton. Probably more than he realizes that I learned from him. He took great care of me. He put me in a good place, and I don’t know if I am where I’m at without a lot of what he did for me. Whether he knows it or not, I was watching him all the time. When I was guarding him in practice, things he does with his hands, or how he changes speeds. I tried to take as much of what he was really really good at it, and put in my game.”

His former coach in Philly, Brett Brown, also had high praise for the rookie.

“He’s just quietly jumping into this league,” Brown said. “There is a consistency that he has shown. Sometimes, he’ll miss a play call and I’ll bark at him, and he lets me coach him. And he’s prideful. I feel like in the capacity that we’re using him as a mini JJ [Redick] — I’m running stuff for a rookie and putting him in situations, and he’s responded and he’s delivered. I’m extremely happy with Landry Shamet.”

In many ways, Shamet is like a mini-JJ, and to have someone in Doc Rivers, who coached Ray Allen and Redick to some of the best seasons in their respective careers, can only help Shamet. The Clippers believe in his ability, will give him every chance to succeed, are a low pressure situation, and are making him a focal point of the offense. For a 21-year-old rookie, it’s perfect.

Since the NBA went full-on three crazy, teams that have had deep playoff runs have had a player who can get himself open and bury a shot. Whether it’s Klay Thompson, Redick, Eric Gordon, or Kyle Korver — having a guy who can run for 48 minutes, get open off of screens, and knock down both open and contested jumpers is huge. That’s what makes players like Shamet so prized in the eyes of teams like the Clippers, that want to reach for more and attract players to their franchise.

Shamet’s game is shooting guard poetry in motion. His ability to get his man to take one false step the opposite way with a quick fake and come tight off a screen to find a sliver of space is pure JJ/Klay. Like those guys, all Shamet needs is a foot or two to get his shot off because of his 6’5” stature, his elevation on his J and his quick release.

Another aspect of Shamet’s game that has impressed thus far is his ability to find open space when a teammate is driving or the ball is in the paint. He knows where the creases are and if his man is caught helping or sleeping. In these instances, he takes advantage and gets open shots:

Shamet was a point guard in college at Wichita State. So, unlike these other snipers, Shamet puts the ball on the floor and is comfortable in creating his own shot. His ability to come off ball screens and handoffs with space and either get to the rack or pull-up is a super underrated part of his game that will only get better, and make him a bigger threat to defenses. Landry is dynamic in more ways than just getting a shot off.

Getting Shamet in the Tobias trade reeked of another genius Jerry West move. The Sixers wanted to go all-in, knew Tobias Harris was a near All-Star and threw the house to get him, including the coveted Miami Heat 2021 first-round pick. Shamet, who had already proven he was a borderline-elite shooter (had eight threes in a game, was shooting above 40 percent), is tantamount to the Clippers maintaining any sort of momentum in the West this season and beyond. Another reason for this move: Shamet could be a factor in L.A. getting these star free-agents they’ve been talking about since the 2017 offseason.

West, Lawrence Frank, and company obviously did their homework. Shamet should continue to improve upon his already very impressive rookie season if he stays healthy (Shamet was injury-prone in college). For guys like Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard or any big name free-agent who needs the ball in their hands, having a player like Shamet on the floor with them does two things. One, it takes the pressure off of them to score because of Shamet’s ability to get open and create for himself, and two, allows for some attention to be off of the number one guy — which usually leads to easier buckets all around.

In Philadelphia, when Shamet played 20+ minutes in a contest, the Sixers were 18-9. When he scored in double-digits, the Sixers were 17-3. So far with L.A., they are 4-1 when Shamet’s in double-digits. The dude is an immediate game changer, and when big-name free agents are looking at the rosters of prospective teams, Shamet will stand out as someone who people want to play with. He has helped this rag-tag Clippers squad maintain playoff position in the West and getting him in L.A. was an incredible move by the front office.