When Landry Shamet first arrived in Philadelphia, he seemed mature beyond his years, confident that he would be a successful NBA player without feeling the need to boast about it.
He’s now a year removed from the trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Clippers, which means he’s spent another year learning how to be a professional. Part of that job is answering questions from the media. What he learned from JJ Redick, a mentor for Shamet during his rookie year, has apparently been a popular one.
“I’ve answered that question a million times,” Shamet said Tuesday before the Clippers’ walkthrough at Wells Fargo Center, “but yeah, we just talked yesterday. He’s just a friend. He’s somebody I’m glad to have a relationship with, glad I got to play with when I did. Learned a lot from him as a rookie. He kind of taught me how to work, what that looks like — being a pro. He was great.”
Tuesday night’s game will be Shamet’s first against the team that drafted him No. 26 in 2018. Since then, he’s adjusted to life on a different coast, shot 42.1 percent from three-point range and capped a 31-point playoff comeback.
He recalled Tuesday how he felt when he learned of the trade that shipped him to Los Angeles and brought Tobias Harris to Philadelphia.
A lot. Everything. When it happened, it was a whole spectrum of emotions. But ultimately, I ended up where I’m supposed to be. I have a great situation, great people around me. I’m happy about it. I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s just part of my big story.
Shamet said he keeps in touch with former teammates Redick and T.J. McConnell, as well as Monty Williams, who left the Sixers to take the Suns’ head coaching job.
“I’ll see faces tonight that I haven’t seen in a while,” he said, “and it will be cool to kind of reconnect a little bit.”
With Shamet returning, it’s natural to reflect on what was, and to wonder what might have been if general manager Elton Brand hadn’t pulled the trigger on that deal. Most teams in the NBA would be happy to take a 40-plus percent three-point shooter, though it's of course not that simple. Outside shooting has been a season-long concern for the Sixers, who are 17th in three-point percentage and 23rd in attempts.
Harris has been positive for the Sixers in a variety of ways — averaging nearly 20 points per game, improving his defense this season and being a genuine, well-liked presence.
“The basketball we know, but he’s one of those sunshine guys,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said of Harris. “He’s just a great guy. He really is a fantastic guy to have around. There’s never a darkness when you’re around him. It’s just light. He’s extremely coachable. He’s a good one, for sure.”
His outside shooting, however, has not met expectations. He’s gone from a 42.6 percent three-point mark with the Clippers to 35.3 percent since joining the Sixers.
There's obviously much more than three-point shooting, but it’s an increasingly important part of the game, and it’s Shamet’s specialty. For him, there’s nothing to be gained from fixating on the past.
Shamet’s last game at Wells Fargo Center was against the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors and current teammate Kawhi Leonard. Late in the fourth quarter that night, he curled around a Joel Embiid screen, sunk a three off a Ben Simmons’ inbounds pass and, lying on the ground next to cheering Sixers fans, looked poised for a four-point play opportunity after contact from Pascal Siakam. Instead, Shamet was called for an offensive foul and the Sixers’ comeback effort lost steam.
It’s an unusual final memory, but it's not what Shamet had on his mind Tuesday.
“Yeah, it is cool, walking around Philly, going to eat, just seeing a lot of places that I was familiar with,” he said. “It’s a different feeling. It’s my first time experiencing coming back to a city after being traded. I have nothing but love for the city and the people here. A lot of good memories. I’m just excited to play tonight.”
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