Landry Shamet admits that he was naïve. Even when rumors surfaced that he could be traded by the Philadelphia 76ers last year, he didn’t believe it. After all, they had just selected him in the first round of the 2018 NBA draft and he was doing everything asked of him. He learned the hard way that the NBA is a cutthroat business when Philadelphia dealt him to the Clippers in the Tobias Harris trade.
The change of scenery ended up being great for Shamet, who averaged 10.9 points and 2.7 three-pointers per game (while shooting an incredible 45.0 percent from long distance) with the Clips. The 22-year-old started in 29 of 31 games for Los Angeles (including every contest in the playoffs).
HoopsHype caught up with Shamet to discuss his rookie campaign, the trade to Los Angeles, the Clippers’ blockbuster acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, his offseason training and more.
Last time we talked, you were still with the Philadelphia 76ers. What was it like being traded as a rookie and experiencing the business side of the NBA?
Landry Shamet: To be honest, I was a little naïve about the whole thing, about the business aspect of basketball. I was in Philly and playing well and I was comfortable, thinking that’s where I was going to be for the foreseeable future. During the whole trade deadline talk, I remember I’d have reporters come up to me and asking me how I was feeling about it and if I was worried about the trade deadline. I was always like, “No, not really.” I never really thought about it. Then, you see how quickly it can happen. That’s just part of the business. Where you’re playing and living and calling home can change like that. It was good, though. I’m glad it happened as early as it did, giving me a picture of the business I’m in.
What was it like adjusting to Los Angeles – on and off of the court?
LS: Off the court, I was out in California for my pre-draft training, so I was fairly accustomed to it. It is different in L.A. obviously. I feel like I can just adapt to whatever environment I’m in pretty easily and I make the best of it. I love L.A. I love the area. I enjoy it. So, off of the court, it wasn’t much of an issue.
On the court, it was different. Obviously, starting is a very different beast. [There are higher] expectations when you’re a starter. You’re expected to produce and you’re not really even looked at like a rookie anymore. It was good. I love situations like that where I’m challenged and pushed to my limits of comfort and I have to find a way to become comfortable in those situations. It was good. I’m glad it did happen. It was a great opportunity. Obviously, I’m thankful for the opportunities I did have in Philly with the Sixers, but I’m incredibly happy I was traded. I was able to really fit into the group I’m with now.
You played really well with the Sixers and then continued to succeed when you landed with the Clippers. Did thriving with two different teams help your confidence?
LS: For sure. I think I’m the type of player that will make it work wherever I’m at, whoever I’m with and in whatever role I’m needed to produce in. Whether it’s at the point or playing off of the ball or playing the way I play now, I really do feel comfortable regardless of whatever role I’m thrown in.
There are a lot of great veterans on the Clippers. Who were some of the guys that helped you get acclimated once the trade went through?
LS: They all did. Everybody was great, from top to bottom. Pat Beverley was the first person to come say what’s up to me. We were in the hotel in Boston and I was the first one to breakfast and film that morning. I was sitting in there, eating my breakfast at the table by myself while the coaches were at another table still meeting. Doc [Rivers] kind of made it a point to yell at me and say, “Come over here and say what’s up!” So, I said what’s up to all of them, which was good. Then Pat rolled in, didn’t even say what’s up to the coaches yet and just came straight to me and talked to me. Obviously, as a rookie, as a young guy, I was feeling a little lost. Little stuff like that goes a long way and it helps. I think everybody really played a role and helped me feel comfortable. Everybody was supportive of me coming in and being aggressive and doing what I do. That alone helped a lot, too.
You started every game during the first-round series against the Golden State Warriors. What was it like getting that playoff experience, especially against such a talented Warriors team?
LS: It was something I was really grateful for, too. Obviously, they were the defending champs at that point and they have two guys who I grew up watching and idolizing in some ways [in] Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Getting to guard them and be locked in on them in scouting reports and make adjustments and seeing them do the same to you, it’s kind of like an “I’m here” moment. It’s something I’ll appreciate more come playoff time this year. It was an experience I’ll cherish. Those experiences will be 10 times more valuable here at the end of this next season coming up when we’re in playoff time and I’m used to it and understand the importance of everything you do come playoff time; every possession, every pass and every switch, everything you do, is super important. To me, it was really valuable experience.
This has been an incredible offseason for the Clippers, landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. How did you get that news and what was your reaction?
LS: When I got traded, it was 2:30 in the morning. I was just about to go to sleep and had gotten texts from my agents, George [Langberg] and Happy [Walters]. They both texted me simultaneously. I’m was thinking, “There is no way this is happening.” I knew immediately that’s what happened, that I got traded. So the other night, it was 2:30 in the morning again and I was already asleep. I was asleep and I could hear my phone going off in my sleep – like I knew it was going off, but I didn’t fully wake up. It was blowing up with text messages and phone calls. I had seven missed phone calls from George, my agent. I woke up, rolled over, looked at my phone and saw all of that. I was like, “There is no way! I got traded again?!” (laughs) That was my first thought, knowing that’s what happened last time. But once I called my agent back, he said, “You’re not in the deal.” And then he just kind of filled me in on things. It was mostly just me trying to wake up. It was exciting, for sure, to hear we got those two superstars. My life got that much easier overnight. I know they’re going attract a ton of attention and make plays for themselves, for each other, for the rest of us. It’s going to be really exciting.
A lot of people are saying that you guys are the best team on paper and there are championship expectations.
LS: There should be championship expectations. There is no reason to think anything else. I kind of felt the expectations immediately, we’re going all-in right now. This is what we’re doing. Knowing that I’ve been starting, assuming that’s still the case, I take that really seriously. Starting on the best team on paper? I take it seriously. I felt the weight of it really quickly, for sure. I’m just excited to get acclimated with that group of guys, move forward and try to accomplish as much as we can.
Have you had a chance to talk to Kawhi or PG yet?
LS: I haven’t yet.
Everyone is talking about how amazing this team can be defensively. How can that help you and what do you expect on that end?
LS: [It helps] your confidence, defensively. Knowing not only do you have other guys securing their matchups, but you know they are heady and have good IQ and if you do make a mistake, you have guys behind you who are good at making up for those mistakes. I think it will allow Pat, especially, to be more aggressive than he already is. You’ll see guys probably gambling a little bit more, knowing the group of defenders behind us. We’ll be able to throw multiple matchups at a guy. If he is having his way with Pat, well okay, here is Paul. If he’s having his way with Paul, okay, well here’s Kawhi. Going down the line, we can really wear guys out. The idea of being able to throw these different matchups at these big-time scorers [is great]. Whoever is guarding them isn’t going to get worn down. We’re going to have different options there. It’s exciting to be able to switch every guy.
It seems like this team is really close and there has been a lot of talk about the Clippers’ excellent culture. I know you’ve only been there for half of a season, but what’s it like behind the scenes in terms of the culture?
LS: From top to bottom, everybody has bought in. Everybody is on the same page. Your front office is on the same page as your coaches, and your coaches are on the same page as the players and everybody else on staff is on the same page. When that happens, it usually manifests in good results. I think adding these two guys – Kawhi and PG – who are known as good locker room guys, they’re going to be able to fit in well and become accustomed to our culture and be valuable pieces and assets in that culture. It’s a group of really, really unselfish people from top to bottom, who will do whatever it takes to win and be as successful collectively as possible. It was great to be able to be a part of that this year.
What are your offseason plans? What aspects of your game are you working to develop?
LS: Just everything. I was a point guard in college; people forget that. Being able to re-work that back into my game [would be good]. I play off the ball a lot, but I want to be a threat off the bounce and off my catches, off pin-downs, dribble handoffs where I can get downhill and create ball screens, and just being more aggressive in transition. Stuff like that, offensively. Obviously, I’ll work on my body and continue to get stronger. Overall, I’m just continuing to be an all-around player, which I’ve always prided myself on; doing everything well. I’m not just a shooter. I’m not just a shooting guard. I play both positions. I can do anything a coach needs me to do. That’s what I pride myself on, so I’ve been working on rounding out the rest of my game that maybe wasn’t showcased as much this year because I was in a different role.
Kawhi and PG are both coming off amazing seasons. What did you see from those two guys last season as an opponent?
LS: I know Paul, he hit a game-winner on us in Philly after having 31 points. I’ve seen him get cooking firsthand a couple of times. He did it again in L.A. We beat the Thunder in L.A. when we played them, but he was great then too. I’ve seen both of those guys get going firsthand. The thing that makes them difficult to defend is they make the shots that are considered “bad shots” in the NBA – long, contested twos. You see Kawhi take a lot of them late in the clock. When he’s making those, he’s impossible to guard because he can do everything else – shoot the three, get to the rim. When you do play good defense on him, he settles for that long, contested two and there is nothing you can do. He’s making that. The same thing with Paul. I think he’s underrated in how well he moves without the ball and comes off screens, the things “shooters” do. He is a scorer, but I think he does really well moving and playing without the ball. That fits in with how we play. We play the right way and I think those two are going to make us that much better.
You seem really mature for your age. You always seem calm and collected. Have you always been mature for your age?
LS: I’ve always been mature for my age. I just try to handle my business the right way and do the right things. I had a single mom and I was an only child. In like third grade, I remember walking home from school with a key around my neck, getting into my house, locking the door, don’t burn the house down, make myself some dinner. I was kind of forced to be [mature] at an early age. I think it’s just carried with me. My mom was incredible in how she raised me. A lot of the things she did, when I was younger in high school, when you’re figuring out who are, a lot things she did, I didn’t understand it at the time. But looking back now, it all makes sense now; I know why. She did an incredible job. My grandparents took care of me a lot too. My aunts and uncles acted like big brothers and sisters. I had good male influences sprinkled in throughout my life at critical points where I needed a man to teach me how to be a man. I think, overall, I’ve been really lucky with the people around me and I think a lot of it is who I am and how I carry myself. I’ve always kind of been like that.
You were recently invited to participate with Team USA’s Select Team. Are you looking forward to that and how much can you learn from that experience?
LS: I’m absolutely looking forward to it. I think being invited to represent your country in any way, shape or form is special. You’re representing your country and that’s a lot of people. To be picked to do that, it’s incredible. It’s an honor. It shows how far I’ve come and what I’ve overcome. It’s exciting. Just to be able to be in camp for five days around the best players in the world, guys I’m going to be going against, I’m super excited to be able to learn from different coaches and get new perspectives and things like that. It’s a lot. I think it’ll be a great learning opportunity for me, a great experience. It’s pretty crazy getting that invite, though.
It was a couple of weeks ago. I think I had just woken up, just got out of bed and got a phone call. That seems to be a trend (laughs). They invited me and I got the itinerary and the dates and all of that. Then, I saw Woj tweet about it. That was cool!