What roles will Landry Shamet and Shake Milton play for Sixers?

What roles will Landry Shamet and Shake Milton play for Sixers?

CAMDEN, N.J. — The main story from Thursday night’s NBA draft was the Sixers’ surprising first-round trade of No. 10 pick Mikal Bridges for No. 16 selection Zhaire Smith and a 2021 first-rounder (see story). Deservedly so. 

But the Sixers also had five other picks heading into the draft. It’s worth breaking down the picks they traded away, the ones they kept, and how their selections after Smith could fit with the team.

No. 26: Landry Shamet
Shamet’s standout skill is his outside shot. The Wichita State junior shot 44.2 percent from three-point range last season — he’s excellent spotting up or running around screens. The 6-5 guard is a very smart player and has good instincts as a passer. However, Shamet isn’t a great athlete and he may not have the handles or quickness to be an effective shot creator in the NBA. Many experts had Shamet projected in the second round.

“I think just immediately, I can provide three-point shooting and just someone that’s going to play hard,” Shamet said in a conference call from Brooklyn after he was selected. “Playing for Coach [Gregg] Marshall at Wichita State, you’re not going to slack off at the defensive end. ... In the NBA now, the three-point shot is so important, and I can provide that right away.”

Brett Brown said he was impressed with Shamet’s shooting and attitude when he worked out with the Sixers last week.

“His ability to just play basketball and play the modern-day game, and his character,” Brown said. “I enjoyed the research on the person. I really enjoyed communicating with him on different levels … and then you saw him play, he’s got a lot of game. And I see him being a combo type of guard that can shoot, make plays and I think really has a prideful approach to his defense that was really attractive to us.”

No. 38: Khyri Thomas — traded to Pistons for two future second-round picks
The Creighton guard, a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year, seemed like a steal at No. 38, and his impressive defensive ability and outside shooting may have fit well with the Sixers (see profile). Ultimately, the Sixers opted to accumulate more assets, something Brown said was a key reason why the team took the Suns’ first-round deal.

No. 39: Reportedly traded to Lakers for 2019 second-round pick and cash
This deal was reported on Wednesday night. Again, piling up assets.

No. 54: Shake Milton
The Sixers acquired the 54th pick (Milton) by trading away the 56th and 60th picks to the Mavericks.

Milton, the SMU product, is a fluid playmaker who does a lot of things well. He averaged 18.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.4 steals. Like with Shamet, his versatility and character appealed to Brown.

“I think he’s incredibly interesting with a 7-1 wingspan and a 6-6 frame that’s again a combo type of player, and high character,” Brown said. “I feel tremendously confident and proud of the fact that the people we brought in are our type of people.”

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Breaking down Sixers' trade targets as December 15th arrives

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Breaking down Sixers' trade targets as December 15th arrives

Updated: 11:49 a.m.

If you’re a basketball fan, you’ve inevitably seen the date Dec. 15 described as an important one in the NBA.

Why, you might ask? Well, it’s the first day free agents that were signed during this past offseason are able to be traded. It’s a rule the NBA instituted so bad teams flush with cap space couldn’t sign players to big-money deals with the intent of trading them (though has it really stopped them?).

So if you’re wondering why Elton Brand hasn’t made a move while the Sixers’ bench remains super thin, this could be a reason why.

With all that said, let’s look at a few players — minus the just traded Trevor Ariza — the Sixers could target now that it’s Dec. 15.

Jabari Parker

Parker is out of the Bulls’ rotation and carries a $20 million cap hit. So I don’t know why you’d want him here and I also don’t know how you’d make it work. Parker can score but his defense is cripplingly bad. Pass.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

The Sixers have been linked to Caldwell-Pope and we outlined that the other day. Caldwell-Pope would be a big upgrade defensively for the Sixers off the bench. He’s an inconsistent offensive player, but he’s far from inept on that end. His $12 million hit could also make a trade tricky.

Wayne Ellington

With the Heat off to a rough start, Ellington could be the type of player that draws interest from competing teams. The Wynnewood native gives you an elite shooter off the bench with plenty of NBA experience. He also has a workable $6 million hit.

Vince Carter

The Hawks signed Carter to mentor their incredibly young team, so they may not be looking to move him, but it’s worth a phone call. The days of "Vinsanity" are over, but the 41-year-old still brings a little something and makes the veteran minimum. He’s a league average three-point shooter, has great instincts and still has some hops. 

Rudy Gay

If you — for some reason — have interest in Parker, Gay is the more attractive version of a similar player. He’s a combo forward that can score but isn’t the greatest defender. Gregg Popovich wanted him back on the Spurs this season, so you know he at least tries to defend. He also has half the cap hit of Parker. The Spurs would have to have their first losing season in over two decades to consider moving pieces, but things aren’t looking great in San Antonio. 

Channing Frye

This name won’t excite you, but Frye is a solid veteran that can shoot the basketball and doesn’t need a big role. Frye probably wouldn’t be a regular part of the rotation, but he’s a pro’s pro and will keep himself ready when the opportunity arises. He also makes the veteran minimum.

Jeff Green

We’ve discussed Green before. He’s just an OK player, though he’d be an upgrade over what the Sixers currently have off the bench. He’s another guy that makes the minimum and wouldn’t cost you much in a trade.

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There's not one easy answer for Sixers' defensive problems

There's not one easy answer for Sixers' defensive problems

There are a few obvious explanations for the Sixers’ 113-101 loss (see observations) to the Pacers on Friday night. 

Joel Embiid didn’t get enough support on a night in which he posted 40 points and a career-high 21 rebounds; the bench continues to look awfully thin for a team with championship aspirations; it would have been nice to have Jimmy Butler (he missed his second straight game with a strained groin) against a good, physical Pacers team that’s on a six-game winning streak and just surpassed the Sixers in the standings.

The Sixers’ defensive issues, though, defy a simple explanation.

After giving up 70 points in the second half of Wednesday’s loss to the Nets and 64 after halftime to Indiana, just about everyone you asked had a different answer.

While head coach Brett Brown framed the defensive problems as a team concern, he did single out two young players.

“Going down to the list, it’s not like you’re going to have a wide variety to choose from,” Brown said. “It’s not so much that, it’s trying to get those guys to expedite their birth certificates. They sure felt all of [the Pacers'] physicality, and I thought Furkan [Korkmaz] and Landry [Shamet] struggled defensively tonight.” 

Korkmaz and Shamet just don’t have the physical tools to be good NBA defenders at this stage. The Pacers identified Bogdan Bogdanovic’s advantage over the 21-year-old Korkmaz. Bogdanovic powered through Korkmaz for a couple early baskets and torched him on several occasions during a third-quarter run by Indiana.

JJ Redick had a different explanation.

“I’ll have to look at the tape on that one,” Redick said. “I think the biggest thing that we didn’t do tonight and didn’t do well against Brooklyn was just being aware of the hot guys — the hot guys being Bogdanovic, Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris, and allowing those guys to get catch-and-shoot threes. I thought we played our pick-and-roll defense tonight, and you’re going to give some stuff up against that.”

Like Redick, Embiid identified pick-and-roll defense as a concern. 

“Pick-and-roll, we gotta adjust a lot,” he said. “Like I’ve said in the past, it’s hard because coaches want us bigs to stay back and you got guys that just go and pull up. And when you come up, they get lobs or easy baskets. That’s what Indiana runs a lot — they run a lot of pick-and-rolls and they took advantage of it.”

We’ve already broken down the Sixers’ woes with pick-and-roll defense (see film review). As Embiid said, the Sixers prefer to play “drop” coverage, which leaves them vulnerable against players capable of knocking down pull up jumpers or attacking the soft spot in the defense.

At his locker before the game, Amir Johnson put aside the technical talk. Johnson, who did not play against the Pacers, has been on the fringe of the rotation.

I feel like we just gotta guard. [We've] been having trouble with 1-on-1 defense. I feel like it has to be a team effort. When we make a mistake, I feel like we gotta show anger and be pissed, like, ‘OK, I’m not going to let this motherf---er score on me again,’ excuse my language. But that’s how I think on defense, I know. I think that’s what we gotta bring. I think overall we’re 12th in defensive rating. I feel like if we get two or three stops, we can be top-10 or top-five or whatever. We just gotta guard and kinda feel painful when those guards coming off are scoring layups … just guard our man.

Every explanation that the Sixers provided for their defensive woes is plausible. Personnel; not adjusting fast enough when an opposing player is hot; pick-and-roll scheme; intensity and pride — all those things likely play a role.

Butler’s presence alleviates some of those issues, but one player doesn’t solve a problem that complex. 

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