Since Day 1 of training camp, Landry Shamet has been learning from JJ Redick — working with him on his game after practice; closely observing the way the veteran moves off the ball; talking on plane rides about life in the NBA.
On the court, Shamet has been employed in a similar manner to Redick, and he's impressed through the first 12 games of his rookie season.
Brett Brown had high praise for Shamet after the Sixers' win Saturday vs. the Pistons.
“He’s just quietly jumping into this league,” Brown said. “There is a consistency that he has shown. Sometimes, he’ll miss a play call and I’ll bark at him, and he lets me coach him. And he’s prideful. I feel like in the capacity that we’re using him as a mini JJ [Redick] — I’m running stuff for a rookie and putting him in situations, and he’s responded and he’s delivered. I’m extremely happy with Landry Shamet.”
One area where Shamet already looks like a mini JJ is his cutting off the ball. Like Redick, defenders tail him tightly because of his shooting ability. And like Redick, Shamet has excellent instincts for when to capitalize on defenders’ excessive aggressiveness and cut to the rim, as you can see below.
The Sixers really have often used Shamet like a Redick clone, plugging him into the identical spots in their actions.
For instance, on the play shown below, the Sixers have Ben Simmons hand the ball off to a wing, who swings it to a big man at the top of the key. Off the ball, the other wing sets a cross screen for Simmons.
One of Redick’s most overlooked qualities is how strong he is at setting screens. He knows how to use the fact that defenders are wary of his own movement off the ball and usually finds the right angle to free up his teammate. Against the Clippers, he helped Simmons get a deep touch in the post.
While Shamet isn’t at Redick’s level as a screen-setter, he did well on this play in Brooklyn to make himself big and draw attention to the foul by his defender.
As Sixers fans know, Redick’s two-man game with Joel Embiid is deadly. The pair just has a great feel for each other. Redick knows exactly how to play off Embiid, for when to use Embiid’s body to screen off his man on dribble handoffs and for when to cut in the opposite direction if his man is overplaying in expectation of the dribble handoff.
You can see that chemistry in the play below, a Sixers’ late-game staple in which Redick screens for Simmons, then flares out to the three-point line. The Sixers have countless options off this action. On this occasion, Ish Smith denies Redick the ball, so Simmons hits Embiid on the wing, and Redick takes the perfect path into Embiid’s dribble handoff, finding space for the three-pointer.
Shamet and Embiid obviously don’t have that same understanding yet, though they’ve had some nice moments together. With Embiid’s help, Shamet runs circles around Shabazz Napier in the play shown below. Shamet’s experience at both guard spots in college definitely gives him a leg up with making reads on dribble handoffs and ball screens.
One of the next steps in Shamet’s development in playing an effective two-man game with a big man will be immediately transitioning from running around off-ball screens into using one of those screeners to create offense when an open jumper isn’t available. That’s a skill Redick demonstrates well in the following play with Amir Johnson.
For the time being, there are going to be occasional misunderstandings between Shamet and Embiid or Johnson, as you can see below. But Shamet’s combo guard background and intelligence as a player should serve him well.
Though Shamet still has room to get better, he doesn’t play like a rookie. In the play below, he recognizes D’Angelo Russell is too close to his body and after working off a dribble handoff from Simmons, he kicks out his leg on the shot attempt to draw three free throws. If you look closely, Redick raises his arm in the background to acknowledge a smart play from his mentee.
Shamet and Redick haven’t shared the floor a ton, but there’s been a fair share of off-ball action when they have. On this final play, Shamet works around a dribble handoff from Embiid, while Redick circles around a cross screen from Mike Muscala and Embiid’s down screen. Mini JJ hits JJ for the three.
In the early stages of this season, it's looked like the Sixers got a steal at the No. 26 pick with Shamet.
The rookie takes pride in his defense, has a pure shooting stroke and plays with intelligence and poise that belie his years. Like Redick, he has the tools to fashion a long NBA career for himself.
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