Skills Challenge sparks Embiid's inner point guard

Skills Challenge sparks Embiid's inner point guard

LOS ANGELES — Joel Embiid loves the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean the Sixers' big man is unfazed by the magnitude of the stage on which he is competing.

“I was actually extremely nervous,” Embiid said after the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. "I don’t know why. My heart was beating so fast. I have no idea why. But I thought it was fun.”

Embiid was one of eight players to test their versatility in dribbling, passing and shooting drills. Embiid defeated Al Horford in the first round and lost in the second to Lauri Markkanen. Spencer Dinwiddie took home the trophy.

Embiid pulled off a comeback victory Horford. He trailed after the dribbling and passing drills but beat out the Celtics' veteran at the three-point line to advance.

“That was wild,” Embiid said. “I lost the ball, I didn’t make the first pass and then I just threw the other two balls. That’s a good way to do it instead of wasting time. Then I was way behind and I came back and I ended up making that three and won.”

Horford was stifled when he thought his first three-point shot attempt was going in … and it didn’t. That miss opened the opportunity for Embiid to claim the round.

“The shot, which I was making before, I felt good, and then I think the pressure got to me a little bit,” Horford said. “I just wasn’t expecting that (to miss). I thought I was good. So then by that time, Joel caught up to me.”

Markkanen, the Bulls' rookie, got the best of Embiid in the next round. Embiid tried to rush through the passing drill to catch up to Markkanen, who ended up crossing in front of him at halfcourt for the clinching trey.

“After he made the layup he was a little bit in front of me,” Markkanen said. “But we couldn’t switch sides, so I had to get to the other side someway. So I tried to sprint and get in front of him and distract him a little bit. I think that worked.”

Embiid said with a big smile, "I kind of thought Lauri kind of cheated a little bit. He went in front of me, but it’s all good. It's all fun."

Even if Embiid didn’t win this contest, it wasn’t a total loss. The 7-foot-2 center has long claimed he wants to be a guard one day, and he showed off those backcourt skills. 

“I think I can still be a point guard in my future,” Embiid said.

All-Star Weekend does not end for Embiid with the Skills Challenge. After competing in the Rising Stars game Friday and this contest on Saturday, Embiid has been making sure to preserve his energy for the All-Star Game Sunday. He will start for Team Stephen.

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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Former Sixer comes to Joel Embiid's defense over Jaylen Brown's 'poster'


Former Sixer comes to Joel Embiid's defense over Jaylen Brown's 'poster'

All right, folks, we’ve settled it once and for all. 

For those of you who missed it last night, and bless your blissfully unaware selves, the Sixers lost in a big way to the Celtics in the season opener.

It was rough. It was disappointing. It was ugly. That is undisputed. 

What was disputed, however, was a play that occurred in the fourth quarter of the game, where Jaylen Brown went up for a dunk but was met by Joel Embiid. He still managed to get a shot off the glass, but the Internet erupted over whether it counted as a poster or not. 

Believe what you want, but it looks like one former Sixer has rushed to Embiid’s defense. Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, who was sent to the Thunder over the summer, responded to a French Twitter account’s highlight of the “enormous poster.”

All it took was one word with a question mark, and it looks like we have our answer on this matter. Or not, but we’ll trust Embiid’s former teammate on this. 


TLC stays loyal. 

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