76ers

Landry Shamet sets Sixers rookie record for 3-pointers made in a game

Landry Shamet sets Sixers rookie record for 3-pointers made in a game

Landry Shamet’s coaches and teammates aren’t letting him coast through his rookie season.

He’s even been targeted a few times by Brett Brown for subpar defense, both publicly and privately, as player and coach have previously admitted.

Unlike most rookies, though, Shamet catches some flack for not shooting the ball enough.

“Every time he passes a shot down, I let him know to shoot the ball,” Ben Simmons said. “He knows he’s capable. Everybody believes in him and trusts in him to shoot the ball at a higher rate. I think it’s just a mental thing; he’s just got to shoot the ball.”

Shamet got up 15 shots in the Sixers’ 132-115 win Tuesday over the Wizards (see observations), and he made eight from three-point range. He caught fire during a 15-point third quarter on his way to a Sixers rookie record for three-pointers made during a game. 

After shooting 34.2 percent from the floor and 20 percent from three-point range over his last seven games, Shamet exploded for a career-high 29 points vs. the Wizards. 

Shamet, who Brown has called “a mini JJ,” replaced the 13-year veteran’s long-range shooting Tuesday night. Redick was out with lower-back tightness.

Though Redick didn't play, his influence on Shamet was a popular topic after Tuesday night’s game.

Brown doesn’t think Redick’s impact on the rookie should be underestimated.

He rattled through all the ways Shamet can learn from Redick beyond the post-practice workouts the two have done since Day 1 of training camp, including watching the many steps of Redick’s “maniacal” preparation. 

“It’s not just shooting with JJ, it’s everything else that goes along with JJ as a human being and as a pro that is just a wonderful example for a young player,” Brown said.

Brown has been asked countless times about Shamet, the No. 26 pick in this year’s draft, and whether he’s surprised by his contributions.

While he’s said in the past that he thought Shamet would start the season in the G League, Brown has also highlighted signs that made the Sixers optimistic about Shamet thriving in the NBA.

Following Shamet’s performance Tuesday, he pointed to the rookie’s quick release, something he says assistant coach Jim O’Brien immediately noticed when the Sixers worked out Shamet.

“The wiggle room in our league is so small, the ability to do that really ends up being an incredible advantage as you move forward in your career,” Brown said, “being able to get shots off against elite NBA athletes, and tonight he did.”

Shamet has always held himself to a high standard. He might not have expected 29-point nights as a rookie, but he doesn't find his success shocking.

Back on Oct. 14, he was asked if he thought he surprised people with his impressive preseason.

“If I have, I have,” Shamet said. “If not, then so be it. To me personally, the only thing I was worried about was just trying to get better. I didn’t surprise myself, that’s the way I look at it. I know what I’m capable of, and I have more in me. That wasn’t the best version of Landry Shamet even.”

Shamet’s teammates and coaches have grown to believe in him too, and while that may sometimes manifest as harsh criticism, he credits them for elevating his game.

“As a rookie, they’re hard on me,” he said. “From the coaches to my teammates, everybody expects something of me. I love kind of having that sense of responsibility to be better, be my best every night. I landed in a great situation. I couldn’t have been in a better spot.”

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Furkan Korkmaz sparks sudden blaze, then leaps over logic

Furkan Korkmaz sparks sudden blaze, then leaps over logic

There came a point Friday night during Furkan Korkmaz’s career-best 24-point performance when everyone at Wells Fargo Center seemed to collectively shrug and say, “Sure. Why not?”

Korkmaz had already flashed his trademark skill, hitting four three-pointers in under two minutes during a sudden blaze at the end of the third quarter.

With a little less than seven minutes to go in the Sixers’ 100-89 win, he stared down Bulls center Cristiano Felicio. The 22-year-old then crossed Felicio over, blew past him, dunked and let out an exultant scream. 

“At that time of the game, I was really feeling it,” Korkmaz said. “I got that confidence. When I saw the open lane, I just took off. I was also not expecting that, but I just dunked it. That was a good moment.”

Korkmaz wasn’t done, though. He missed a well-earned heat check on the Sixers’ next possession, but dropped in a floater shortly after. And, just to confirm that it was indeed his night, he took a charge on Bulls star Zach LaVine. 

Which play did he enjoy more?

“It’s a tough question, but I think I would say the dunk,” Korkmaz said honestly.

This isn’t the first time Korkmaz has changed a game this season with his shotmaking. He had nine key fourth-quarter points Wednesday vs. Brooklyn, blew up the Bucks’ zone in the third quarter on Christmas and made the game-winning three on Nov. 2 in Portland.

The Sixers declined Korkmaz’s third-year option last year, then let him sit on the free-agent market until July 25. Though they billed him as a young, promising player, their actions suggested Korkmaz was not a prominent part of their plans. He appeared to be on the fringe of the rotation.

Brett Brown hasn’t passed up many chances to laud Korkmaz, and he had a great opportunity Friday.

It’s really quite a — to say it's incredible would be too dramatic — but it's a heck of a story, isn't it? Just where he was and where he is. For us to see him — and he's young, can't forget his birth certificate — for us to see him come in and do JJ [Redick]-like stuff and have that type of a bomber, that was different. … We ran probably, I don't know, five plays in a row going to him. 

“I had flashbacks of JJ. We jumped into JJ's package and he changed the game. He gave us a spark and whether it was a three ball — I don't remember JJ dunking like that … but the long shot and just like bam, bam, bam — quick points, buckets — fueled our defense.

While Korkmaz deserves credit for translating his hypothetical value as a shooter into real contributions this year — he’s made 71 threes, tied with Tobias Harris for most on the team, and converted 39 percent — he will probably not maintain Friday's euphoric high. 

He’s devoted time and energy to improving his defense, but the question of whether he’ll be able to hold his own in the playoffs remains open and valid. If he’s not sinking shots, his impact tends to not be positive. Any moves the Sixers make before the Feb. 6 trade deadline could shift his role, too.

But, for the time being, he is playing with an apparently limitless self-belief.

“As a player you just need to get that confidence,” he said. “When you start to feel good on the court and also your teammates see that, your coaching staff sees that — I think today everybody saw that I was feeling it — and I knew that I had to shoot those looks. I just take the open shots, that’s all I do.”

Brown is clearly relishing in Korkmaz’s success.

“He's quality people,” Brown said. “He's a genuine person and you're proud of that, too. Good things happen to good people ... He's put in the time and to his credit, he came in and changed the landscape of an NBA game. And he did it quite emphatically. It wasn't like it was swept under the carpet. He did it where ESPN and all of us and his teammates, probably more importantly, felt his success.”

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Furkan Korkmaz, Al Horford building a budding bromance

Furkan Korkmaz, Al Horford building a budding bromance

Sometimes, new teammates just seem to click. For one reason or another, guys gravitate towards one another.

For the Sixers, a budding bromance seems to be brewing between veteran Al Horford and youngster Furkan Korkmaz.

After Korkmaz had a monster game, scoring a career-high 24 points in the Sixers’ win over the Bulls Friday, Horford couldn’t help but gush over the Turkish wing.

He’s just great,” Horford said to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters postgame. “He continues to get better, his confidence continues to grow. He’s a guy that’s a big piece for us. He’s figuring it out and as the season goes on, you can just see the improvement.

Then he took to Twitter to show even more love.

To which Korkmaz endearingly responded.

The play in the picture was this dunk off a drive which got Korkmaz to 22 points.

This isn’t the first time the pair have shown a kinship. After Korkmaz hit a few big shots on Christmas day against the Bucks, Horford was effusive in his praise. And when Korkmaz hit the game-winner in Portland, he credited the 33-year-old Horford.

I knew that Al (Horford) was going to set a good pick and try to get me open to make the shot. … I was wide open. I just let it fly, and I made it. That was also a huge comeback from double digits (down). Horford, I think, made a lot of shots.

While their bromance is alive and well, Ben Simmons also took to Twitter to celebrate his teammate’s big night.

Tobias Harris also retweeted that post.

Safe to say, the Sixers are pretty Furkan happy right now.

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