76ers

Sixers film review: Landry Shamet really is like a 'mini JJ' Redick

Sixers film review: Landry Shamet really is like a 'mini JJ' Redick

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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Sixers weekly observations: There's a snarling competitor under Joel Embiid's big smile

Sixers weekly observations: There's a snarling competitor under Joel Embiid's big smile

Joel Embiid is getting ready to start in his second straight All-Star Game, Ben Simmons is set to play in his first, and we have a fresh set of weekly observations to tide you over during this limbo without competitive basketball. 

• The playfulness and social media exploits sometimes obscure the fact that Joel Embiid competes.

Sure, he has off nights, but Embiid’s consistent effort, for a man of his size, is commendable. He’s played 54 games this season and scored in double-figures in all of them, with double-doubles in all but six.

It sounds basic enough — of course stars should play hard every night — but it’s not the reality of the NBA. Especially given his immense defensive responsibilities, you can’t begrudge Embiid the occasional “load management” day. In all honesty, he probably needs more. No disrespect to Boban Marjanovic and Jonah Bolden, but there’s a big drop-off at center when Embiid is out. Though he might not be the MVP, Embiid is up there in the literal sense of being most valuable to his team. 

His decision to lean into the microphone and end his press conference after another Sixers’ loss to the Celtics with, “The referees f------ sucked” wasn’t the most mature outlet for his frustration, but it was another sign of his snarling competitiveness. 

Embiid, though, is the rare superstar who usually has a smile in testy moments.

His comments after the Sixers’ blowout win over the Rockets on Jan. 22, in which he and James Harden each picked up technical fouls following a combative exchange in the second quarter, come to mind.

I was just walking back to my basket and I think [Harden] pushed my leg and naturally I’m going to react, and I did. We both got technical fouls and we move on. To me, I’m having fun. I’m always having fun and a lot of guys take it seriously. Especially when it comes to that, we just had one guy our last game that was acting crazy. But it’s fun to me. I love it. 

That guy who Embiid referred to as “acting crazy,” Russell Westbrook, is now his teammate on Team Giannis in the All-Star Game. It should be an interesting night, as should Feb. 28, when the Sixers play the Thunder in Oklahoma City. 

Lingering questions

The Sixers fell to the Celtics in the playoffs last season for plenty of reasons, among them an inability to take care of the ball, Simmons’ struggles, exemplary defense by Al Horford and Aron Baynes on Embiid, and Boston’s guards capitalizing on mismatches.

While the Sixers might be lucky enough to avoid the Celtics in the postseason, those are all issues which still be addressed. To Brett Brown and company’s credit, you sense they’re closer to having answers.

Simmons has gone from a subpar post player to one of the most efficient in the league, and he didn’t have a bad game last time out against Boston, with 16 points on 7 for 9 shooting, five assists, five rebounds and two steals. His free throw shooting (2 for 7 Tuesday vs. the Celtics) is still a concern.

Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris should remove some of the pressure on Embiid to dominate offensively every single game in a series. That said, sharper decision-making against double-teams by Embiid and, perhaps, creative movement around Embiid in the post — as opposed to standing around and watching him work — would be helpful.

Since the Butler trade, the Sixers are 26th in the NBA in turnovers (15.2 per game) and 22nd in turnover percentage (14.8 percent). Those numbers mean little out of context. When turnovers occur in the playoffs — ideally not in bunches, and not of the careless, unforced variety — is more important. 

And finally, you’d expect Jonathon Simmons, James Ennis and Mike Scott will boost the Sixers’ playoff defense, or at least make the team less vulnerable to mismatches. 

But 24 games isn’t much time to juggle experimentation and jostling for playoff positioning. It should be fun, at least for Joel Embiid. 

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NBA All-Stars rave about new-look Sixers

NBA All-Stars rave about new-look Sixers

It’s All-Star Weekend, so we thought we would find out about what fellow All-Stars and other players think about your new-look Sixers.

And let’s just say, this should make Sixers fans feel pretty good ...

“They’re different. Obviously, they’ve been good, but they added more depth, more athleticism, more scoring, more star power, and you look at that starting lineup and it’s really good, and you’ve got TJ (McConnell) coming off the bench with James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons, so it gives you some athleticism coming off the bench. They are up there.” — James Harden

“Big. Long. Athletic. It will be interesting to see how much better they can get, adding Tobias Harris and those guys, because they have already shown they can be one of the top teams in the East, so with those new additions, I think the sky is the limit for them. It’s going to be fun to watch.” — Mike Conley

 “When you have four guys that are really All-Stars on a team, and then a bunch of other guys around them that can play really well, it makes it interesting to see how it’s going to work out. It makes them tough.” — Danny Green, who also said Tobias Harris should’ve been an All-Star

“Right now they are extremely dangerous, need a little bit more time to play together, but they can match (anybody in the) world.” — Nikola Jokic

“Tough ... they are probably in the talks to win the championships, for sure.” — Luka Doncic

“They’re a super, super talented team … We’ve got a good rivalry going, they are super competitive, we are very familiar with them, and they are very familiar with us. Lot of trash talking out there, that’s what makes basketball super fun, when you’re super competitive like that and everyone is watching.” — Jayson Tatum

 “All the players they have, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler now, and also got JJ Redick as a shooter and now they just incorporated Tobias. They’re going to have to get their chemistry together with him. They are just going to be a totally different team.” — Kawhi Leonard

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