Certain things in life bring us all together... a delicious meal, perhaps in an all-you-can-eat buffet style, full of tasty greens, some hearty starches, and maybe a little meat (or plant-based substitutes!). Drinks––champagne on New Years Eve, a crisp pilsner with terrific “head” at a beer-fest, or maybe a glass of Merlot at a work party––are always a great way to build bridges between folks with different backgrounds. Sports, too, bring a sense of community to even the most unlikely of friends.
Or my favorite unifier of all, music. It appears newest Brooklyn Net, Landry Shamet, shares that sentiment; the sounds from our favorite artists can break the ice with total strangers. Moments after it was announced that he was joining this talented Brooklyn roster following a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and the Detroit Pistons, Landry Shamet posted a video tweet to his Twitter account––a video that currently sits pinned atop his profile. In that video, Jay-Z’s baritone voice boomed...
Yeah, I’m out that Brooklyn, now I’m down in Tribeca
Right next to De Niro, but I’ll be hood forever
I’m the new Sinatra, and since I made it here
I can make it anywhere...
Well played, Landry. Around these parts, Hova’s always a great way to make a first impression.
On Friday, in his first official appearance since landing in Brooklyn, Landry told the group of (virtually) huddled reporters about that special night he became Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s newest teammate.
Though he had heard his name was “involved in trade rumors the last couple of weeks,” the news broke when Shamet was “cooking dinner for his girlfriend” at his Los Angeles apartment. A “carne asada and some (homemade) salsa” meal, to be precise.
Many other stories were shared––the first time he met his new head coach Steve Nash, his trials and tribulations whilst attempting to move across the country in a global pandemic––but a pair of quotes caught my ear in particular.
Less than 48 hours into his Brooklyn tenure, Shamet has already issued a set of statements that sounded eerily similar to Steve Nash’s September prognosis about Brooklyn’s offense. As a reminder, here’s what Nash had to say courtesy of Brian Lewis.
“And on offense, for our team we have a talented group, we definitely want to use the talent, speed, athleticism, versatility of our players that’re able to make plays for each other.?
And here’s what Shamet had to say on Friday.
“Kyrie Irving is a guy who likes to push the pace; I think we’re going to play fast, with lots of space and fluidity.”
Landry continued, mentioning that he had spent the offseason working out with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at the former Mamba Academy.
“They look great. KD looks great. Kyrie looks great... from the outside looking in, they look really good.” And in those workouts, “(Irving and Durant) wanted to move and set screens.”
Set screens, you say? Hm. That sounds tantalizing.
Allow me to peal back the curtain a little: Since the announcement of Steve Nash’s hire, I’ve long been wondering how the Nets’ offense may look. Will the Nets score their points mainly in transition, pushing breakneck speeds at––dare I say it?––7 seconds or less? Could Nash honor Kevin Durant’s Warrior roots with more of a motion-based system, full of cross-screens, dribble-handoffs, and more-scripted reads?
Or will the Nets take advantage of boasting two of the best shot-creators in the league, pairing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in on-ball screening combinations with one another, or perhaps with some of their newest teammates?
For Kevin Durant, in particular, this would be an enormous stylistic alteration since he last stepped onto association hardwood. According to NBA.com’s hustle stats, even as one of the tallest players on Golden State’s roster, Durant finished 8th in screen assists for the 2018-2019 Warriors––behind the likes of Golden State’s point guard, Stephen Curry! That’s certainly unusual for a player of Durant’s stature, to say the least.
Turning up the magnifying glass a few clicks closer, and Durant was rarely utilized as a pick-and-roll screener within Steve Kerr’s motion offense. Per Synergy Statistics, he qualified as the pick-and-roll “big” just 97 total times in his three year Warriors tenure (for reference, fellow near-7-foot demigod Giannis Antetokounmpo was a pick-and-roll screener 115 total times last season). KD-as-a-screener proved to be Steve Kerr’s ultimate trump card––a ploy he only broke out in certain high-pressure situations.
Like, you know, the 2017 NBA Finals.
Rejoice in the screen-setting euphoria that is Kevin Durant clearing space for his teammates. The cruel reality in Durant setting picks for a quick-trigger guard like Stephen Curry (or Kyrie Irving, or even Landry Shamet!) is that it places the defense in a truly impossible situation; switch this action on defense and Durant is matched up with a smaller player, of which he can use his near 7-foot stature, high release-point, and quick trigger to rise over the top and pull-up from deep without a care in the world. Stay true on the matchup and, well, you’d better be pretty shrewd at navigating picks, otherwise it’s three points on the board for the Slim Reapers’s ball-club.
As I detailed in Wednesday’s post-draft column, Landry’s got a little more wiggle with the ball in his hands than your average catch-and-shooter. The Kansas City native is more than fine with generating his own shots off a handful of dribbles, doing just that twice against the division rival Boston Celtics. Up first, from a SLOB (sideline out of bounds), Shamet receives a screen from All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, dribbles toward the opposite sideline, and elevates for a game-tying three with barely an inch of airspace. And in the second clip, he stretches a live dribble for multiple seconds into the shot-clock, never panicking while waiting for a helpful screen from one of his teammates (Ivaca Zubac), before jamming a quick-strike three-pointer into the teeth of Daniel Theis’ mug.
Let me make this clear: Landry Shamet is going above and beyond the call of duty as a spot-up marksman with this level of self-creation. Pair Shamet’s pull-up capabilities with Kevin Durant or DeAndre Jordan as screeners, and Brooklyn will assuredly catch many a defense with its pants down.
And according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Shamet’s more than happy to return the favor.
(Shamet) doesn’t need the ball, a killer shooter will draw a lot of attention just roaming around . He can set screens — on ball screens — because of his gravity as a shooter and the way defenses have to pay attention to him.”
Very interesting. The versatile Landry Shamet can do more than just chuck the rock from deep, setting and delivering off screens with a veteran’s confidence. If I may, it sure sounds like Shamet’s more than just a shooter.
Could this be a small glimpse into what the 2020-2021 Brooklyn Nets will be running? Heavy pick-and-roll offense with screeners of all shapes and sizes? Though we can’t answer that question just yet, the embarrassment of riches for Steve Nash to tinker with on offense just grew one piece larger.