76ers

With debut now behind him, Landry Shamet proves quick to carve out his role with Sixers

With debut now behind him, Landry Shamet proves quick to carve out his role with Sixers

When Landry Shamet was drafted by the 76ers with the No. 26 pick in June, it wasn’t long before he was introduced to the passionate fan base of Philadelphia. 

It first started when fans offered to buy him drinks when he was going out to eat around town. 

“I’m like, I can’t do that!” Shamet said. “We’re in training camp! It was crazy, and kind of unexpected. I knew the fans here were super passionate, but I got a lot more recognition than I expected to.”

And then, he was introduced to Philly fans on Twitter, after he casually referred to the city as “downtown Philly,” which led to some entertaining threads.

“Some of the funniest threads have come from tweets of mine and it has been great,” Shamet said before he let out a laugh. “Interesting people, they’ve been good though.”

But the 21-year-old has had a lot more than Twitter threads on his mind the past few weeks. 

“My whole thing is I want to come in and contribute to winning,” Shamet said. “However that is, and if it’s five minutes a game, then it's going to be the best five minutes that I can give out, and if it’s 20, then I am going to do that to the best of my ability.”

That give-all mentality is something that has definitely been noticed by his teammates.

“What has impressed me the most about him is that he goes game speed on every rep, and very few players know how to do that,” JJ Redick said. “You see the product of that in a game. His reps before and after practice are as good as I’ve seen in a young player, in terms of speed and pace. It's impressive.”

Speaking of Redick, the relationship that Shamet has been building with him since he came to Philly has already started to go a long way. 

Shamet, who can always be found shooting after practice with Redick, said the veteran has taken him under his wing. 

“I learn a lot from him,” Shamet said. “Whether he knows it or not, I’m always watching him on the court and trying to replicate a lot of the things he does.”

Shamet was quick to point out that he doesn’t want to be Redick, but he does want to take things that Redick does really well and apply that to his own game. 

“I think he’s a great vet for me, getting to learn from one of the best shooters in the NBA, and best guys playing off the ball, and he’s also really good in defending for his size, so he’s been great and teaching me a lot,” Shamet said.

Entering his 13th year in the league, Redick said he tries to think about things that he would’ve wanted to know as a younger player and pass them on to him.

“He’s a gamer,” Redick said. “He’s got some mojo to him.”

And as for Brett Brown, Shamet has shown the coach exactly what was witnessed during the guard’s time at Wichita State, which is a skill that he thinks translates best to the Sixers’ style of play.

“People that move off the ball, it’s a knack,” Brown said of what has stood out most about the rookie. “We move and I felt like when we scouted him, he would fit in from that perspective.”

Fitting in is exactly what Shamet plans to do this season.

“Coming in, my goal this whole time is to find my role and carve it out as fast as possible,” he said. “Whatever that is, just buy fully into it, and ultimately that means that I want to play, and I want to crack the rotation. To play, that’s my goal.”

Shamet cracked that rotation on opening night. His stat line might not have stuck out (one point in his 12 minutes), but the experience sure did. 

“All throughout the day I was super amped for the game,” Shamet said. “I almost had to bring myself back down, but then getting subbed in, hearing the horn and running onto the parquet floor, that was really cool.”

And on making his debut in such a historic city?

“It was an incredible feeling.”

Shamet just wished it would've ended with a W.

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2020 NBA playoffs: Looking at where Sixers sit in Eastern Conference picture

2020 NBA playoffs: Looking at where Sixers sit in Eastern Conference picture

Though they’re calling “seeding games,” the Sixers’ primary concern in the contests leading up to the playoffs is not seeding.

“How do you go into the playoffs … how can you go into that date feeling like we’re the best we can be?” Brett Brown said on July 12. “Worrying too much about moving up because you could play this team or avoid that team, I stay away from that.” 

Through three games at Disney World, Brown wishes the Sixers were playing at a higher level. The team has gone 2-1, but that record includes a fourth quarter in which the Sixers allowed the Pacers to score 46 points, a game-saving shot from Shake Milton vs. the Spurs and a win over the 24-44 Wizards that was tight until the end. Ben Simmons exited Wednesday’s game against Washington early with a left knee injury

It’s been slower coming than I would’ve thought,” Brown said Wednesday. “I liked our practices, I thought … the preseason games you saw at times a dominant defense. We’ve started these three games, I think, very inconsistently. I think we do some good things offensively, defensively, and then you see head-scratching stuff. It hasn’t gone as quickly as I had hoped. But I see where I think it can end. 

“We’re still figuring out some things with how we’re playing the team and Shake (Milton) coming in and so on. But I think, for the most part, we’re trending in the right direction, just not as quickly as I wished.

Here's where the Sixers sit in the Eastern Conference: 

3. Boston Celtics 45-23 GB: 9 
4. Miami Heat 43-25 GB: 11
5. Indiana Pacers 42-26 GB: 12
6. Sixers 41-27 GB: 13 

Boston technically still has a chance to surpass the Raptors for the No. 2 seed and the Sixers aren’t eliminated from contention for the No. 3 seed, but both outcomes are very improbable. Kemba Walker sat out the latter half of a back-to-back Wednesday, a 149-115 Celtics win over the Nets, as the All-Star guard works through a left knee issue. After playing Toronto on Friday night, the Celtics will face Orlando, Memphis and Washington.

The current No. 4 and No. 5 seeds play each other twice in the remaining seeding games, which should be interesting. The Heat’s other opponents are the Bucks, Suns and Thunder, while the Pacers’ are the Suns, Lakers and Rockets. Before the NBA’s hiatus, Miami was 2-0 against Indiana. In case you were curious, T.J. Warren hasn’t dropped off much after his 53-point performance vs. the Sixers. He leads all scorers at Disney World with 39.7 points per game. 

Despite having the sixth-easiest strength of schedule, the Sixers don’t have great odds of rising. Basketball Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report gives them a 72.8 percent chance at the No. 6 seed, 23.0 percent at No. 5 and just 4.1 percent at No. 4. Those probabilities are intuitive when you consider the Sixers have lost their season series vs. the Heat and Pacers. 

The Celtics are the Sixers’ most likely first-round opponent at the moment by a good margin, which would potentially leave the Sixers a path of Boston-Toronto-Milwaukee. One could make the argument that such a road is best for the Sixers, since the team won its season series over Boston, 3-1, and wouldn’t have to face the top-seeded Bucks until the Eastern Conference Finals, but nothing’s going to be easy for a No. 6 seed. 

We analyzed the Celtics, Heat and Pacers as possible first-round opponents for the Sixers here

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Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons reportedly had clean MRI on left knee

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons reportedly had clean MRI on left knee

When Ben Simmons flexed his left leg after lobbing a pass for Al Horford and immediately headed off the floor Wednesday during the Sixers’ win over the Wizards, it was logical to be concerned. But, according to a report, Simmons’ knee injury is not as severe as one might have feared watching him walk toward the locker room. 

An MRI on Simmons’ knee was clean and he’s expected to be day-to-day, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. It's worth noting this is not an official update from the Sixers, who Brett Brown said postgame he expected to issue an announcement soon about Simmons' status. 

The 24-year-old recovered from a nerve impingement in his lower back over the NBA’s hiatus, and he felt strong and explosive heading into the league’s restart. He’s now serving as the Sixers’ starting point forward, an adjustment Brown thinks he’s approached well.

“I do feel like Ben has been amazing,” Brown said before Wednesday’s game, “in regards to just being mature on ‘Put me wherever you think I can best help the team.’ At times maybe he hasn’t gotten a touch the way he needs to get a touch, sometimes — which was easier when he was always the primary ball carrier. And so I applaud him tremendously on being a great teammate, trying to accept a new type of ecosystem that we’re trying to use him in.”

Simmons looked for his shot often in Wednesday’s game, though with little success. He missed an open corner three-pointer in the first quarter, his first legitimate regular-season try from long distance since Dec. 7, and made 2 of 10 field goals overall in 23 minutes. 

If Simmons misses any games, Brown will have a few options for reshuffling his starting lineup. There’s a case to be made for just about every member of the current rotation, which Brown cut down to nine players on Wednesday. Al Horford could slide into the frontcourt if Brown wants to work on the Horford-Joel Embiid pairing, which has a plus-15.6 net rating in 40 minutes together at Disney World after being the Sixers’ worst regular duo pre-hiatus.

Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and Glenn Robinson III have all started games this year, though Robinson is dealing with an injury himself, having missed the team's first three seeding games with a left hip pointer. Perhaps Brown could go with Alec Burks if he’s looking for an extra ball handler and more time to evaluate his potential backup point guard in the playoffs.

The main takeaway here, however, is not the potential ripple effects on the Sixers' seeding game rotation. Rather, it's that a player the team will surely need to have available in order to make a deep playoff run reportedly has avoided a serious injury.

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