Welcome to the 2021-22 Phoenix Suns Season Preview series, starting with individual PLAYER PREVIEWS. We go through the roster, recapping last year and analyzing how they can help the Suns in their upcoming championship push.
The team is no longer in developmental mode. They are in “let’s win a ‘chip” mode and, as their young core is maturing, the roster has been fortified with players meant to compliment that core. Depth is a key component to any team with serious expectations to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy and acquisitions have been made to ensure that the bench provides consistent quality.
One of those players brought in by Suns’ GM James Jones is Landry Shamet.
Guard, 6’4” tall, 190 pounds, 24 years old
It may feel as if Shamet has been in the league for six years at this point seeing as he is well traveled, but he was drafted in the same draft as Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Taken 26th overall by the same team that originally took Mikal, the Philadelphia 76ers, Landry was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers at the trade deadline as a part of the Tobias Harris deal during his rookie season. After a season-and-a-half in the City of Angels, he was sent to Brooklyn prior to the 2020-21 season.
Last season, while playing with the star-studded Nets, Shamet played 23 minutes a night and averaged 9.3 points, which equates to 14.5 points-per-36. He posted a 38.7% average from beyond the arc. Of the 61 games he played in, 12 came as a starter while either Kyrie Irving or James Harden were out due to injury.
Landry is an average NBA player with an above-average three-point shot. Therefore I grade him as a C+ last season, although he is a B+ in his role.
- Overall grade as an NBA player: C+
- Relative grade to preseason expectations: N/A
Landry is still on his rookie deal, earning $3,768,342 this year. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year with a qualifying offer of $5,562,073.
The obvious weakness everyone points to with Shamet is his defensive capability. He isn’t tall or long at the shooting guard position and possesses average lateral movement. You aren’t going to see the same level of intensity that Carter brought to the court.
His quickness, or lack thereof, translates to the offensive side of the ball as well. There is a reason he has focused on becoming a serviceable three-point shooter: he can’t beat guys off of the dribble.
Shamet is a one-trick pony. 73% of his shots came from beyond the arc last season. He isn’t a threat from the mid-range either, shooting 35.7% from 10-16 feet last year. He is not a playmaker by any means, which means that his one-dimensional approach to offense makes him easy to defend.
Three-point shooting, plain and simple.
Of his 7.5 FGA, 5.5 came from beyond the arc, where he shot 38.7%. When you are playing on a team with a roster that mirrors what some kid cooked up on 2K, the expectation is that you sit back and stroke three-balls. Shamet can do that all day.
Shamet shot 42.3% on catch-and-shoot threes (86%tile, A- grade via BBall-Index) and 46.4% from the corner. The challenge he faced the most? He was open for only 17.2% of his three-point attempts (35%tile, D+ grade). It’s all a moot point, however, when you consider Landry’s three-point shot making ability — the BBall Index advanced stat that measures a player’s proficiency shooting three-point shots given their degree of difficulty, was +0.51 (88%tile, A- grade)
Shamet played with J.J. Redick for 54 games in 2018 and learned from the veteran the importance of off-ball movement in an effort to create open looks at the rim. That is the role he has filled ever since. He is a younger version of Redick.
BBall Index has Shamet classified with a bronze “microwave” badge. He can score, and when he gets hot, it comes in bunches. He had 15 games with 15+ points last season (that's 24.5% of his total appearances resulting in at least 15 points). He can absolutely take over a game if the stroke is right.
Here is an example of one of those microwave games. Landry dropped 30 from off the bench against the Heat in April.
ONE KEY FACTOR
You’d love to see Shamet improve from last season relative to his three-point shooting. He took many by surprise when he shot 42.2% from deep his rookie season and “slumped” to 37.5% his sophomore year. The 38.7% from last season, although acceptable, isn’t what you hired him for.
He’s not a defender. He’s not a playmaker. He’s a shooter. He needs to make the shots to be effective.
The addition of Shamet allows the Suns to have one thing they have never truly had during the Devin Booker Era: someone who can spell Devin Booker at the two guard position. Phoenix has had a plethora of guards who’ve tried, but they’ve all been undersized and/or ineffective scorers. Landry Shamet will open up the second team offense for Phoenix as he plays alongside Cameron Payne or Elfrid Payton. He is in a great position to be great at what he does.
Will he be targeted on defense? Sure. But as long as he’s filling it up on the other end, the Suns will be maintaining the plus/minus differential until the starting unit returns. And on (hopefully) most nights, expanding the lead will the first team unit is chugging Gatorade on the sideline.
I’m predicting that Shamet has a quality impact on this team this season. He will cook. My expectations for him this season are an A-. Why? Because James Jones has built a roster with defined roles. It’s a roster that makes sense, has depth, and is built to win.