Shocker film room: Why Landry Shamet is so good at the pick and roll

Rising sophomore star Landry Shamet was at his best last year when Wichita State used him in pick and roll situations.
Rising sophomore star Landry Shamet was at his best last year when Wichita State used him in pick and roll situations. The Wichita Eagle

Wichita State’s potential was unlocked last season when coach Gregg Marshall shifted Landry Shamet to the point guard position midway through the season.

The rest is history: Shamet averaged 11.4 points, shot 44 percent on three-pointers, and finished with 117 assists compared to 39 turnovers in his redshirt freshman season. He delivered his best game on the biggest stage, scoring a team-high 20 points and not committing a turnover in 34 minutes against Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Even with while currently on the mend, recovering from offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot, Shamet has received praise entering the college basketball season with some outlets saying he could be an All-American.

Some might think that’s a little much for a player who had modest averages — 11.4 points and 3.3 assists. But advanced numbers tell a different story.

Taking care of the basketball is priority No. 1 to play point guard for Marshall, and Shamet was one of the best in the nation. His 3.0 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked in the 99th percentile from the pool of more than 2,500 college basketball players who had at least 400 possessions end with them shooting or their pass leading directly to a teammate shooting, according to Synergy. Shamet’s 1.44 points per possession in those situations was in the 98th percentile from that same pool.

Shamet is expected to have the ball in his hands even more this season since he’ll begin as the point guard. So what can Shockers fans expect this season when Shamet returns? A healthy dose of Shamet operating in the pick and roll.

According to Synergy’s data, more than a third (38.5 percent) of Shamet’s offensive usage last season came off the pick and roll. These plays resulted in 190 points on 175 possessions for a PPP of 1.09, which ranked in the 96th percentile of players who had at least 100 such possessions.

Let’s take a look at what makes Shamet so effective in the pick and roll.

1. Shamet has a great hesitation dribble

Shamet prefers the screen coming from the left side, so he can turn the corner going to his right with the ball in his right hand.

When Shamet decides to take the screen, most defenders are going to trail Shamet and go over the screen, which leaves the opposition’s big trying to stay in front of Shamet to discourage a drive for a second until his defender can completely recover.

With any pick-and-roll coverage, there is a split second — the ball handler’s defender hasn’t quite recovered and the big man shifts back to the screener to defend the roll — where the defense is exposed. Shamet was able to exploit this last season by using a hesitation dribble to send the big man off, then exploding down the freeway and finishing at the rim.

Here are video examples:

According to Synergy, Shamet scored 34 points in 28 possessions when he finished at the rim. That 1.21 PPP is close to elite production, and defenses must account for the threat Shamet presents driving the ball.

2. Shamet can exploit his length

Watch that short clip and you will see two occasions when the 6-foot-4 Shamet doesn’t take a single dribble inside the three-point arc and still finishes at the rim, both times because of his length.

While we’re probably not going to see much more of the second clip when Shamet rejects the screen, which he rarely does, and flies down the lane for a two-handed slam, the first clip in the NCAA Tournament against Kentucky can be a preview of what’s to come.

First off, Kentucky has length and athleticism that will be more prevalent in the American. It’s impressive to watch Shamet show off his own length and athleticism to trump it.

But what I like the most about this play is that Shamet uses a “hostage” dribble after Rashard Kelly sets the screen on the left wing. The defender trails the screen, but instead of exploding right at the big man waiting for him in the lane, Shamet shows patience by putting the trailing defender on his backside with the hostage dribbles. That creates a 1-on-1 situation with Shamet and the big man, a game Shamet wants to play every time.

In the NBA, this technique is called putting your defender in jail. When Shamet has his defender shielded on the backside, he is unable to defend Shamet going toward the basket. This is a play I think we will see more of with Shamet going up against higher-caliber athletes and a play he can have success with due to his length.

3. Shamet is great at setting up the defense

It will be interesting to see how defenses approach the pick and roll with Shamet. For this section, we’ll look at how Shamet is able to expertly manipulate the big man in the two-man game to set up others on the floor.

In the video below, I have paused the clips and circled the help defender that Shamet is reading before he makes the pass. But it’s also important to point out what Shamet is doing before the pass that sets up the score for the Shockers.

The first clip shows the big man defender aggressively jump the screen to trap Shamet, which isn’t a good strategy because Shamet is 6-4 and can make the pass out of the double team and it leaves your other three defenders scrambling to cover four players and Wichita State will at times have five shooters on the floor. In this clip, Shaq Morris rolls down the middle of the lane after the pick and Darral Willis’ defender has to rotate over because Morris’ man is trapping the ball. Shamet reads this and calmly delivers the pass to Willis, who is left wide open to step into a 15-footer.

What defenses are more likely to do is what the rest of the clips show. The big man defender doesn’t jump out to trap, but still doesn’t want Shamet taking an uncontested three-pointer or turning the corner with full speed to the rim. Shamet knows this, so he slyly stretches out the defense by taking dribbles to the side. This draws the big man further away from WSU’s screener and sends the defense scrambling to cover the roll down the middle of the lane.

Shamet waits for the play develop and as soon as a help defender commits to the roller in the middle of the floor, Shamet delivers a dart to the player the help defender left wide open ready to shoot a jumper. Shamet is an expert at identifying who the open man will be and ensuring a clean look for them, which is the reason Wichita State scored 112 points on the 94 possessions where Shamet passed out from a pick and roll. That 1.19 PPP ranked in the 95th percentile of college basketball from a pool of players who had at least 75 possessions of passing out of a pick and roll, according to Synergy.

4. When defenders go under, Shamet goes up

Why on Earth would you go under a screen on Landry Shamet? All he did was make 72 three-pointers last season at a 44-percent clip.

But some teams are so concerned about Shamet breaking down their defense that you’ll see an occasional defender go under a screen for Shamet. I don’t think we’ll see this much in the 2017-18 season because Shamet roasted defenses when they did this last season.

According to Synergy, Shamet scored 29 points in 22 possessions when he used a screen and took a dribble jump shot. His 1.32 PPP in those scenarios ranked him in the 97th percentile in college basketball.

5. Shamet has a gravitational pull on the defense

We’ve established why Shamet is so deadly in the pick and roll. He can finish at the rim, manipulate the defense to create open shots for teammates, and knock down the three-pointer if you go under on the screen.

So it’s easy to understand why Shamet has such a gravitational pull on the defense when he comes off a screen in the pick and roll. He’s dangerous in so many ways that most defenses struggle to rotate quick enough to prevent him from creating an open shot for himself or a teammate.

Just watch these videos and you can see how Shamet’s pull from the pressure he applies breaks down defenses. It sends defenses scrambling and when defenses are scrambling, more times than not someone is going to be left open. And more times than not, Shamet will find them.

Taylor Eldridge: 316-268-6270, @tayloreldridge