Name: Landry Shamet
Years in the NBA: 2
Key stats: Shamet played in 53 regular-season games, starting 30 for the Clippers. He averaged 9.3 points in 27.4 minutes per game while shooting 49.5% on 2-pointers and 37.5% on 3-pointers.
Shamet started four of LA’s 13 playoff games. He averaged 5.2 points in 18.7 minutes per game while shooting 52.9% on twos and 35.7% on threes.
Future contract status: Shamet is entering the third year of a four-year rookie contract that will pay him $2,090,040 in 2020-21.
The Clippers acquired Shamet in a coup of trade in the 2018-19 season. He immediately juiced up the offense and capped off his rookie year with one of the most memorable shots in team history. As a result, the Clippers had high expectations of Shamet coming into this second season, especially considering all the open looks he would get playing next to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Alas, Shamet started the year off cold. He couldn’t hit a damn thing in October, excluding one quarter against Charlotte. By the time he started to find his rhythm, he got injured. Then Paul George came back and (deservedly) took away Shamet’s starting spot. He had finally figured out his place among the reserves when the pandemic hit, and then much of the work he did during the hiatus went to waste when he contracted the coronavirus in July.
Suffice to say, it was an inconsistent season for the youngest Clippers rotation player. But his offensive skillset still makes him an important part of the team’s future.
Shamet is an outstanding shooter, particularly from 3-point range. He can shoot off the catch, he can shoot on the move, he can pull up, and he can rescue a broken play with a miraculous shot. The versatility of his jump shot and his movement off the ball make him a tough cover. Even in a somewhat down year for Shamet statistically, his effective field-goal percentage was 54.2%, placing him in the 85th percentile of combo guards.
Ivica Zubac and Shamet make a strong pairing because Zubac sets hard screens to spring Shamet for jumpers. Shamet is a good screener in his own right. He’ll set picks for other smalls on the perimeter, and that either results in an instant open shot for Shamet or a compromised defense for the LA ball handler. Shamet also finishes well at the rim, making 67% of his shot there this season. If he’s driving off a closeout or on a switch, he can accelerate quickly and has good touch at the basket.
Shamet’s best game of the season, or at least the most memorable, came in Game 3 of the first-round series against Dallas, when Shamet entered the starting lineup in place of an injured Patrick Beverley. The second-year guard was able to combine the threat of his shooting with some rudimentary playmaking to add some movement to the team’s offense. Shamet was a point guard in college, but he hasn’t done much facilitating at the pro level. If the Clippers aren’t going to unleash him as an out-and-out sniper (à la Duncan Robinson), they should encourage his playmaking to diversify their attack.
If Shamet’s shot isn’t going in, he doesn’t provide much on offense. His playmaking is mostly theoretical at this point, even though it looks like he has that ability in flashes. There’s nothing wrong with being a long-range marksman, but the Clippers have to make that a larger function of their offense to fully take advantage of Shamet’s presence on the court.
Opposing defenses are also starting to figure out that Shamet isn’t exactly comfortable in the midrange. If they can chase him off the 3-point line, he’s only shot 30% on midrangers as a Clipper. For whatever reason, his shot mechanics are thrown off when Shamet is in that in-between range. Considering those shots are inherently less valuable than threes or field goals in the paint, it’s best for Shamet to avoid them.
Shamet is also a below-average defender. He works hard and isn’t necessarily mistake-prone, but he doesn’t have the physical tools to keep up with most perimeter players in the league. He had the worst defensive rating on the Clippers this season, per NBA.com, and the team was 3.9 points per 100 possessions better on the defensive end with him off the floor, per Cleaning the Glass. The Clippers don’t need him to be a stopper, but he has to be average to function in their closing lineups. With the amount of switching the Clippers did, Shamet was an easy target last season. It was clear in the playoffs that the team didn’t trust Shamet’s defense, and his minutes declined throughout the Denver series.
Future with the Clippers:
Unless the Clippers execute another mammoth trade this offseason, Shamet isn’t going anywhere. He is a young, productive rotation player on a rookie contract, which is pure gold for a contending team. He also doesn’t appear to be anywhere near his ceiling, and it will be interesting to see how Ty Lue and his new coaching staff — specifically Dan Craig and Kenny Atkinson — can help Shamet realize his full potential. Craig worked with Robinson extensively, so that’s a prototype to think about.