Life is a whirlwind for Landry Shamet, Wichita State’s spindly sharpshooting combo guard who declared for the NBA Draft after his junior year. After the draft combine in Chicago, where he put his little-known 39-inch vertical on display, he’s worked out for six different teams, traveling to San Francisco, Los Angeles (to work out for the Lakers), Phoenix, Atlanta, Orlando, and Indianapolis in the span of a week-and-a-half.
The difference in each team’s draft positioning tells you all you need to know about Shamet’s stock: it’s rising but volatile for a 21-year-old prospect whose dreams have only recently started becoming a reality. SB Nation caught up with Shamet in Dallas, where he’ll finally, he says, “have a couple days off to get acclimated and remember on a day-to-day basis what time it is, what day of the week it is.” We talked travel, music, shooting, and the challenges of staying prepared in the midst of so much excitement.
Are you getting a sense of the NBA grind?
Honestly, the travel itself hasn’t taken it out of me as much as I expected it to. Going through security and all that tedious stuff is always kind of a struggle but as far as flying goes, I haven’t lacked any energy. That’s kinda the biggest surprise out of all this. I’ve been expecting to be drained, and I’m not nearly as exhausted as I expected to be.
Why do you think that is? Diet? Sleep?
I think both those things are really important. I’ve had a couple of workouts where I haven’t slept as good, because you’re still kinda on that West Coast time and it’s almost midnight and you’re just eating dinner. You can feel a difference in your body. Sleep, hydration, eating right. The small things eventually add up. That’s something you learn pretty quick. I’m trying to avoid as many fried foods as possible, eat lean protein, good carbs, that sort of thing. I’ve always been one to be mindful of my diet but now more than ever.
In my situation, it seems like I gotta eat like five times a day just to maintain my weight. I have a hard time putting weight on and even sometimes keeping it on, especially with all these workouts I’m doing, the energy I’m exerting. It’s important to make sure I’m eating enough.
Are you trying to bulk up?
I would like to. I have put some weight on throughout this process. Obviously, weighing 190 pounds at 6’5 and a half isn’t ideal for me. I’d like to put on a little more weight. At the NBA level, getting stronger and adding muscle mass and weight is good for the longevity of the career, and allows yourself to score more, guard more positions, be more physical on a night to night basis. It’s important to me but I’m doing what I can to kinda affect it but I also understand that I’m 21 years old and, with time, I’ll continue to fill out.
How do you kill time on all the plane rides?
I’m big on music. I’m always listening to music, exploring music. That’s kinda my escape, if you will. I’m a musical guy. I’m looking into potentially new hobbies. That’s been one of the most surprising things. As busy as my life is right now — and it feel like it’s a whirlwind, I’m in different cities all the time — you have just so much free time. I had no idea. It’s gonna be important to start finding little hobbies that you can do that can take up your time and keep you from going stir-crazy. You’re at the hotel room by yourself all the time. I can see how people would lose their minds a little bit. My biggest thing is music. I always listen to music and kinda read little news clippings of articles here and there about what’s going on in the world, educating myself on everything, and trying to just get a firmer grasp on that sort of thing.
What are you listening to?
Apple Music has their new music playlist. They’ll just kinda format it based on what you like. I’ll download that before getting on a plane and start listening to new stuff I haven’t heard. People are always asking who are you listening to? I listen to a lot, I don’t really have one person. There’s probably a lot of people that nobody would know. Last night I was listening to R&B throwback stuff.
Do you ever look at the league’s direction, with more spacing and switching, and get excited about your potential role?
To be honest, the whole NBA discussion, the reality of it didn’t really set in until after my second year in college. We lost to Kentucky but I kinda played well, played against De’Aaron Fox. Obviously that’s been my dream but having realistic thoughts and ideas, thinking about the reality of it, didn’t happen until about a year ago.
As far as where the game is going, it’s not only the NBA but college as well. You’re starting to see a lot of teams playing with multiple ball-handlers on the floor. Guys have to be able to stretch the floor now. Being a fan and watching basketball, you notice it. The way I play fits that mold. I do honestly feel positionless. I was recruited as a two-guard and transitioned in college to playing on the ball and initiating a lot of our offense, and now I’m in a situation where my versatility is going to be valuable in the NBA because I can play either position.
What convinced you to declare for the draft?
There was a lot of variables. For one, just the confidence I have in myself to make something happen for myself. I’ve always trusted my gut. My gut has been telling me I should probably go do this for me and my family. I’ve had Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet in my corner. Fred told me something: basically, if you realize you’re a pro and you understand what you’re capable of, when you come to terms with the fact that the process might not go exactly how you want it to but you’re gonna make something happen for yourself, it’s an easy decision. There’s a couple alternatives and worst case scenarios with this process but I feel like I’m comfortable with them. Obviously, it’s a dream you have for a long time and being that it was a small window of opportunity, I kinda just wanted to grab it and attack it with two hands.
Did you patent your shot after anybody?
One consistent thing in any good shooter is footwork. I try to watch guys like Kyle Korver coming off screens, Klay Thompson moving off the ball, how he sets things up. He’s probably the best in the NBA right now at playing without the ball. Klay and Steph [Curry] both. But footwork, Klay is very fundamental. Steph is a little more unorthodox, you could say. As far as mechanics go, I don’t really watch anybody else. That’s kinda just for me and my AAU coach. We created this jumpshot. That’s like my golf swing coach. That’s the only guy I listen to about it.
How do prepare for the pre-draft interview process?
We did some mindset training, mindset development. We did some mock interviews. Quite honestly, I feel comfortable talking with people. I can just be myself. I think that comes off well. Some people try to overcompensate. That’s the advice I give other people. Don’t do anything crazy or try too hard to be somebody that you’re not. I’ve gotten good feedback about my interview process as well so I think it’s working for me.
Being yourself is important but also hard in a moment of whirlwind you’re going through. How do you stay grounded?
I pray a lot. I think you can put your mind at ease a lot knowing that someone is always taking care of you. I talk to my mom, I talk to my family. It seems like everybody I talk to on the phone right now, they’re asking me about basketball. My granddad will call me and talk about his projects he’s doing at home. Remodelling his floor, stuff like that. The biggest thing sometimes is to keep your mind off basketball. That’s your job now. That’s all you do. It’s good to just talk with your grandpa about his day-to-day stuff, or your little cousin that went to the zoo last weekend. Stuff like that, staying engaged with your family, taking an escape or a break away from basketball 24/7.