EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns’ Landry Shamet reunites with Monty Williams after forming bond with 76ers

Sep 29, 2021, 10:06 AM | Updated: 6:17 pm
Landry Shamet #13 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at...
Landry Shamet #13 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at Barclays Center on January 01, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Hawks won 114-96. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — “Yeah, it’s my fourth team in four years, so there’s times where I’m thinking, ‘Damn, I haven’t stuck anywhere. Why? What’s going on?’ But also it’s good to remind myself that somehow I’m winding up on teams who have gone further, now have higher expectations.”

That’s new Phoenix Suns guard Landry Shamet at media day on Monday, providing a quick summation of his NBA journey through three years.

Shamet, 24, is a good, high-IQ player and the type of shooter that every team wants. Among the players in the last three years to attempt at least 1,000 three-pointers, Shamet is tied for 15th in percentage at 39.7%, per Basketball-Reference, certifying him as one of the league’s current snipers.

That also hasn’t stopped the Philadelphia 76ers from trading him as a part of a package for Tobias Harris, or the Los Angeles Clippers dealing him to get Luke Kennard (whoops!) or the Nets sending him to Phoenix so Brooklyn didn’t have to add a rookie extension to a pricey cap sheet with three superstars already on it.

It has Shamet’s career at a strange and unique point: on a new team, in contract year. Not so much a crossroads, but Shamet is a guy who needs to stick somewhere and could really benefit from the confidence that brings.

Perhaps the Suns can be that team to give him his first real NBA home. At the very least, his arrival in Phoenix gives him the comfiest new destination possible.

Shamet in his rookie year with the Sixers formed a tight bond with Suns head coach Monty Williams, who was an assistant at the time with Philadelphia.

“I was lucky in Philly,” Shamet said. “I had a lot of good older presences in my life from J.J. (Redick) on the floor to Monty. He made it his mission to just take me under his wing. I remember very early, I was going to work with him. It wasn’t even the coaching and how hard he was on the basketball court with me.”

That came more with the smaller moments where Williams was, as Shamet put it, “instilling this professionalism,” like when Williams got on him for wearing a small gold necklace when coming out to the practice court.

Shamet said Williams is more of a role model than a coach in that regard.

Williams shares similarly strong feelings about Shamet.

The head coach revealed after practice on Tuesday that the Suns had been trying to acquire the guard for the past two years. Back in 2019, when Williams was talking to Clippers beat writers in Los Angeles about Shamet, Williams said Shamet was the type of person he’d want his daughters to marry.

“It’s a huge thrill for me,” Williams said Tuesday of reuniting with Shamet. “I’ve learned a lot from Landry. We were in Philly and we came to that organization at the same time so both of us were new to the organization.”

Shamet is a clean fit on the court as well. He knows Williams’ coaching style and what he likes to do, where the Suns hope to get more out of Shamet’s skillset than his previous teams.

Let his draft classmate, friend and Suns wing Mikal Bridges explain.

“I remember watching him play in Philly, a lot of catch-and-shoot,” Bridges said Monday. “I knew him in college, he used to be on the ball. He used to be point guard, coming off ball screens.

“So when I first kinda saw that, I had to go back my rookie year and talk to people like, ‘Landry Shamet, you remember him from Wichita (State), he wasn’t running around, shooting like J.J., right? Am I trippin’?'”

Mr. Bridges was indeed not tripping.

Shamet’s not an explosive ball-handler but he’s smart, tough and can make the right pass or finish around the basket.

He confirmed all that’s still in his bag.

“Very different stylistically how I’ve played so far in the NBA as opposed to college,” Shamet said. “It’s still there, those tools are still there, and it’s something I want to be able to show and be able to do. It’s exciting, this type of style of offense will allow opportunities to do that.”

Shamet is spending training camp trying to find the sweet spot of being useful in both roles for the Suns.

“Analyzing things, figuring out, OK, how can I help?” he said. “In what situations can I fit in and maybe insert myself on the ball, how can I get guys open off the ball using my movement? It’s just gonna be a feeling out process. I know I have both, I know I can do both and I will long term.”

Williams sees the opportunity there to get the type of extra piece the rotation was missing last season: a ball-handler outside of Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Cam Payne, who is capable of both spacing the floor on “the second side,” as Williams puts it, or consistently making plays off the bounce.

“In so many ways, that’s what we hope to do with him, is let him play,” Williams said. “Not to say that other teams didn’t, but I’m hopeful in our program, he can show more of himself because that’s what we thought of him when we had him in Philly.”

During Shamet’s time with the 76ers, he said Williams would check him and stay on him when he was playing really well. When things weren’t going so hot, Williams was cracking jokes with Shamet to get him back to that midline.

Sound familiar?

As we’ve heard from Williams the past two years, it’s about never getting too high or too low, and that balance could be what unlocks Shamet’s full potential in the NBA and gives the Suns a valuable extra bit of firepower off the bench.

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