Landry Shamet’s shooting performance — 3-of-17 overall, 2-of-12 from deep — in a tough Nets loss to the Toronto (Tampa?) Raptors should show everyone what has become abundantly clear recently: he is now an essential cog of this team.
Guard after guard has found themselves on the sidelines recently, so much that Nets head coach Steve Nash might as well have the phrase “Next Man Up” playing on repeat from a voice-box in press conferences.
The latest next man up? That would be Mr. Shamet, who has become the de-facto backup point guard with Spencer Dinwiddie, James Harden, Tyler Johnson, and Chris Chiozza all out for the Nets with long-term injuries. Whew!
Since Chiozza went down in Minnesota on April 12th, Landry Shamet has seen 85 minutes on the floor without Kyrie Irving - the Nets only other primary ball-handler. Compared to the rest of the season, where Shamet had played only 108 minutes with players like Irving and Harden, that is a dramatic change in role.
Shamet has stated in the past that he is confident playing point guard, doing so at his Alma Mater Wichita State.
He reminded us back in January, saying:
"If you watch me in college, there wasn't a possession where I wasn't handling the ball... I'm extremely comfortable doing that."— Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksNBA) January 11, 2021
"I want to get back to doing that."
-Landry Shamet on playing a little point-guard last night
The opportunity may not have come as quickly as he anticipated, but here we are in April and Shamet has been given the opportunity to handle the rock and be a primary facilitator in the Nets offense.
Admittedly, Shamet struggled on Wednesday against the Raptors. In addition to his poor shooting, the Nets were outscored by eight points with him on the floor. That’s the lowest mark for him in the past six games when he excelled as the primary ball handler.
In fact, the Nets have outscored opponents by 37.7 points per 100 possessions since March 12 when Chiozza went down and Shamet assumed backup point guard duties. That’s a significant improvement over how those lineups had fared previously, when they were outscored by 20 points per 100 possessions, per NBA Stats.
Shamet played most of the game in Minnesota off the ball, but with Chiozza being ruled out for the second half with a hand injury, Shamet got to run some pick-and-roll of his own...
After Minnesota wing Jake Layman is forced to fight over DeAndre Jordan’s screen due to Shamet’s elite 3-point shooting, Shamet is able to get the ball back in his dominant hand to deliver a crisp bounce pass to Jordan for the finish. An admittedly awkward first pick-and-roll, but remember that he’s just getting comfortable...
Shamet continued to show pick-and-roll prowess, expertly utilizing the Nash Dribble - who I’m sure smiled on the sidelines - to find Bruce Brown open in the corner.
Shamet started to get comfortable shooting off of ball screen screens at the top of the key in Philly, too. The 76ers play Joel Embiid in drop coverage, which leaves Danny Green to fight over the screen. Embiid hovers towards a rolling Nic Claxton, which gives Shamet enough airspace to rise up for the elbow jump shot.
With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both back in the lineup Friday against the Hornets, Shamet found himself back in the off-ball role he’s claimed for most of the season. No problem. He still burned Charlotte from deep on 6-of-11 shooting, unloading a plethora of catch-and-shoot triples.
Four minutes into Brooklyn’s matinee matchup with the Miami Heat on Sunday, Durant went down with what was eventually diagnosed as a left thigh contusion. Shamet stepped up to the plate and scored a career-high 30 points on 10-for-15 shooting while nailing seven 3-pointers. Once again, his on-ball creation was on display, and bails the Nets out at the end of the shot clock here:
For Landry Shamet to be able to create something out of nothing against Bam Adebayo — one of the league’s best switch bigs -- is a sign of immense progress. He’s rarely been put in a role where taking 7+ dribbles before a shot is necessary; with only 3.6 percent of his career field goal attempts following that many dribbles, per Second Spectrum. Adebayo is a force on the defensive end, holding Irving to 1-of-9 shooting on Sunday and stopping him not once, not twice but thrice down the stretch. Shamet was the only Net to shoot north of 50 percent from the field when guarded by Bam.
Shamet has shone as a playmaker in these lineups as primary facilitator. Without Irving on the floor, his assist percentage is up to 26.2 percent and his assist-to-turnover ratio has skyrocketed to 2.67. Keep in mind his averages for the season in these categories are 9.5 percent and 1.74, respectively.
Tuesday night in New Orleans was when Shamet finally put it all together for a career showing as a playmaker. His eight assists were indeed a career-high mark, and he distributed the ball in a variety of ways. Let’s take a look...
Not even 30 seconds after tipoff, Shamet is already dropping dimes. He utilizes a jab step and hesitation move to get Lonzo Ball off balance and then is able to blow past Ball and just barely stay in bounds in time to whip a one-handed pass to Kyrie Irving on the wing. Irving promptly nails the long ball, and Shamet’s night is off to a good start.
While not being as impressive as a flashy one-handed pass, being able to be a table-setter for the offense is equally important for a primary ball-handler.
In the example above, Shamet is able to precisely hit Joe Harris in stride off of stagger screens. Harris hesitates and Zion Williamson takes himself out of the play, offering up a lane to the basket.
This had to be one of Shamet’s more “fun” dimes of the night. Off the Irving pindown, Shamet turns and begins his shooting motion, captivating the attention of Juancho Hernangomez. Hernangomez’s man, Blake Griffin, seizes this opportunity by slipping his handoff and cutting to the rim. Shamet is able to thread the needle at the very last second for the almost-slam.
Shamet won’t be running pick-and-rolls every play as various guards return to action for Brooklyn, but his ability to change roles on the fly in such a tumultuous season shouldn’t go unnoticed. And as one of the Nets’ youngest players, just turned 24, this development should prove very fruitful down the road.