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2018-19 Clippers Exit Interview: Landry Shamet

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The Clippers’ prized midseason acquisition fit into the team beautifully, and immediately demanded a place in the franchise’s future.

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Key Information

Name: Landry Shamet

Age: 21

Years in NBA: 1

Key Stats:

2018-19 with Clippers: 25 games (23 starts), averaging 10.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 0.5 steals in 27.8 minutes per game. His splits: 41.4/45.0/79.5

2018-19 Salary: $1.705 million

Future Contract Status: Shamet, who was acquired from the 76ers in February, is under his rookie scale contract. Next season is guaranteed at $1.997 million with team options through 2021-22. He would be eligible for a rookie extension in 2022-23 or would sign a qualifying offer for $5.569 million.

Summary

Let’s be honest. When the Clippers dealt Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers in February, it seemed like a move geared towards the future. It appeared to be an asset acquisition move to sign even bigger players in the offseason, and to recover something on what presumably would be a lost asset (Harris) if he left for nothing as an unrestricted free agent. Yes, it was painful to lose three players seemingly every Clippers fan adored (Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott, and Harris). But the crown jewel of the trade, an unprotected Miami first round pick in 2021, was worth it. Wilson Chandler was thrown in for salary cap matching purposes, and Shamet, a rookie selected 26th overall by Philadelphia, seemed like an ancillary part of the deal… not a throw in, but certainly not a blue chip piece. But remember, it was supposed to be getting something out of what would have been nothing in July.

Fast forward to late April, and the Miami pick almost seems secondary. Shamet, a shooter in the JJ Redick mold, was not only a perfect fit alongside rookie star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but he was impacting games now. Like this year. Like in big moments. The Clippers allegedly loved Shamet in June 2018 when they used first round picks on Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson. There were questions about his durability. His two years at Wichita State included some concerning lower body injuries. There was also the fact that Shamet wasn’t the elite-level athlete that would ideally lineup as an NBA 2-guard every night. The shooting, the basketball IQ, the feel for the game and the toughness were always there, though, and the Clippers pounced on the opportunity to snag him eight months later when the 76ers were desperate to fill out the most awkward, and talented, starting five possible.

Shamet made a splash in his first game, helping the Clippers erase a 28-point deficit in Boston and knocking down four 3-pointers. He would go on to make at least one 3-pointer in all but one of his games as a Clipper, including making five or more three times. His regular season prowess from distance was such that the Warriors made a concerted effort to neutralize him in the Western Conference playoffs. Still, in Game 2, Shamet nailed a game-clinching 3-pointer on the right wing to seal an historic 31-point comeback for the Clippers.

Strengths

Obviously, Shamet’s ability to shoot from distance in a variety of ways — off the dribble, in a spot up situation, and on the move — is his biggest strength. But there are so many intangible qualities that stood out with Shamet in his three-month stint in L.A. He asks questions, picks up on nuance, and immediately slotted into the Redick role from three years ago. The exception; he might become an even better overall player than Redick was at his peak. He’s got a quick release, is competent defensively, plays with effort and is clearly unflappable. From a fandom perspective, replacing three highly likeable guys on the roster was a near impossible task, but Shamet’s personality and effort made it a seamless transition.

Weaknesses

Ball-handling and strength are two areas that Shamet will certainly need to improve in the offseason. But he’s already far ahead of the curve for a rookie, in part, because he’s such a savvy basketball player. He has come across as a worker, and someone who will likely make leaps in his first NBA offseason.

Future with the Clippers

He is under team control for the next four-plus seasons. Obviously, he’d be a considerable piece in a trade attempt, but I might be more inclined to take my swing in free agency and preserve my youthful, exciting backcourt. He fits the Clippers program in every way.

Final year grade: A

Shamet, despite playing at a mid-major in college, played a lot of big time basketball prior to the NBA. However, his first-year experience, playing on contending teams, entering the playoffs, and having success individually and as a team, will go a long way towards his development between year 1 and 2. He is a well-deserved prize in the Harris trade, and with an offseason to incorporate him more, could be an even more valuable weapon for the Clippers a season from now.