EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns pass on draft’s late 1st round, bring in shooting with Landry Shamet

Jul 29, 2021, 5:50 PM | Updated: 11:31 pm
Landry Shamet #20 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the second half against the Chicago Bulls at...
Landry Shamet #20 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the second half against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center on May 15, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Well, a solution to not really having your type of player potentially available at your slot in the 2021 NBA Draft is trading your pick for someone who’s already in the league.

The end of the first round in this year’s draft was lacking experienced, proven commodities that checked most of general manager James Jones’ boxes. That made it a not-so-surprising development a few hours before the draft started that the team agreed to trade the 29th overall pick (UNC center Day’Ron Sharpe) and guard Jevon Carter to the Brooklyn Nets for guard Landry Shamet, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Shamet entered the league as a Jones type and has three NBA seasons under his belt, to boot. The 24-year-old was a three-year player at Wichita State before spending those pro years between the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers and Nets.

Across those three seasons, Shamet has averaged 9.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 24.1 minutes per game, primarily being used as a shooter.

Over 70% of Shamet’s career shot attempts in the NBA have come on 3s, according to Cleaning the Glass.

On those 379 total, Shamet has shot 39.7%.

This past season, he knocked down 42.3% of his catch-and-shoot looks from deep on a team that gave him a lot of open ones.

This is the type of look he can get off an action involving Deandre Ayton’s dives to the rim.

He can also be used through off-ball movement, where we can start to talk about there being some dynamic factors to his offense — there are things beyond just a guy that shoots.

Shamet relocates as well, a trait that will be even more useful in a Suns offense that uses a whole lot of ball and player movement.

And where Carter was lacking as a guy attacking closeouts to make a pass, that’s something Shamet can do better as a more effective 0.5 player. While it’s not a high assist output, Shamet doesn’t turn it over much, with only 135 total turnovers across 193 NBA games.

That is just about the extent of Shamet’s offensive game, and this is a move that is about offense more than defense. Carter was one of the best defenders on the team and Shamet will be one of the worst.

Shamet being a late first-round pick in 2018 was mostly due to his lack of athleticism and explosiveness, not skill. That’s something that hurts him as a potential first or secondary ball-handler, and most of why his offensive game hasn’t expanded further in the league. The Suns still absolutely need to prioritize bringing back reserve point guard Cam Payne, an unrestricted free agent.

Shamet’s defensive effort and basketball IQ won’t be a detriment to the Suns, but he’s still below average overall on that end.

He’s a good player who Suns fans will enjoy watching. There’s also a reason he’s on his fourth team in four years.

The move is an upgrade, one that gives head coach Monty Williams someone he can trust more in a playoff setting as opposed to Carter. Williams coached Shamet in Philadelphia and loved him, plus Shamet played on good teams in the playoffs for all of his first three seasons.

Carter will be extremely missed. He was the hardest worker on the team and played a level of toughness and edge that his teammates loved. Williams referred to him in the past as a “culture driver,” and that was an apt way of describing Carter’s value to the team.

The deal also has other components to it.

For one, Shamet is eligible for an extension this offseason like Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton, and will become a restricted free agent next summer if nothing comes to fruition there.

Given the future paydays coming for Bridges, Ayton and Cam Johnson, along with potentially Chris Paul and Cam Payne, it could be a one-year rental.

And that’s where the comparison goes to Carter’s contract and the extra guaranteed year, but don’t forget the 29th overall pick as well, a $2 million the Suns save with this deal.

A pick that late can be viewed in two ways.

From one perspective, it’s still a rookie contract that guarantees the first two years, two picks away from the second round when that’s not the case. That has some risk to it given it’s a commitment to a new NBA player.

The other outlook is that it’s so late in the first round that the deal is dirt cheap and the Suns could have gotten a steal on the books if they found a rotation piece, even if it took a year or two to develop them. Grizzlies wing Desmond Bane was ready right away for Memphis at the 30th selection last year, and he’s making an average of $2 million each of his first three seasons before a $3.8 million team option for his fourth.

Suns owner Robert Sarver himself said Wednesday on Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo that being a luxury tax team comes with the territory of where they’re headed, and with that, they won’t have as much opportunity with money to add more pieces.

Just in this postseason alone, you can look at Terance Mann, Monte Morris and Matisse Thybulle as guys selected in the 20s or further of the draft by a contender that gave them solid playoff minutes on a rookie contract.

But as mentioned previously, this draft likely dries up on those prospects by the time the second round rolls around. The Suns did not sit on this trade until we got to pick No. 29, and potentially wanting to do that was not a dealbreaker to them.

The Nets have a handful of picks in this draft and are obviously looking to package them in some way, but if that 29th selection ends up on their roster or another playoff team, we could get a good indication if they could have been useful for now or in a few years time.

Remember, while the Suns are contenders right now, they also have a young core ready to contend for the next five-plus years as well. That prospect could have been another part of that.

It all goes back to Jones’ philosophy, which has proven right much more often than wrong in the start of his tenure as general manager. A late first round filled with projects that could pay off with patience likely did not appeal all that much to the front office.

If some of those guys the Suns could have selected pan out, it also won’t matter if Shamet provides positive, meaningful minutes to the rotation in both the regular season and playoffs. That’s what the deal is about more than anything else.

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