Philadelphia 76ers: Landry Shamet could be the perfect number two

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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

After whiffing on young shooting guards year-after-year, Landry Shamet could finally give the Philadelphia 76ers a dynamic number two.

A developmental shooting guard has been the Philadelphia 76ers’ white whale over the last half-decade.

Now don’t get me wrong, J.J. Redick is the man, and I’m sure the team couldn’t be happier that he agreed to a second one-year deal to the City of Brotherly Love for another season, but at 34-years-old he’s likely viewed as nothing more than one of the League’s best stop gaps, as opposed to a potential star of the starting 5 for the foreseeable future.

No, for Philly to truly succeed in the modern 3-and-D landscape of the post-Warriors NBA, they need to find a young two guard with the ability to stretch the floor, make smart decisions, and ultimately lock it down on the defensive end of the court.

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And the team has a pretty significant body count to prove it.

From OG-processor Hollis Thompson from 2013-2017 to Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot from 2016-2018, and even Furkan Korkmaz, the team’s latest developmental winger, Philly has been long been on the lookout for a versatile two guard with the ability to knock down a healthy portion of his 3-points.

The team even traded Nerlens Noel, who at the time was considered a near-max-level talent, to the Dallas Mavericks for Justin Anderson and two second-round picks. I think it’s safe to say that that trade didn’t age well for any party, as Noel is currently a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder on a one-year veteran minimum deal, and Anderson was just traded to Atlanta to reunite with his former assistant coach Lloyd Pierce on the rebuilding Hawks.

But in the 2018 NBA draft, the Sixers may have finally got it right.

Sure, many fans in Philly can be quick to point out that they aren’t fans of the team’s decision to swap Hometown hero Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns for Zhaire Smith and a future 2021 unprotected first-round pick (especially since 2021 likely won’t be the year high schoolers can declare for the draft) the real steal of the first round may have actually been the player Brett Brown selected 26th overall, Wichita State combo guard Landry Shamet.

Dubbed a reach during the NBA live broadcast of the draft, as many believed he’d be a sure-fire second-round pick, the Sixers’ option to use their own first-round pick to bring Shamet on board, and on the surface, there’s a lot to like about the decision.

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Standing at prototypical 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, Shamet was essentially forced to play out of position at Wichita State, almost exclusively playing on-ball as the team’s point guard.

And for the most part, it worked.

Averaging a very impressive 12.9 points and 4.1 assists a game, Shamet knocked down almost 44 percent of his 3-point shots over his three-year college basketball career, a very impressive clip regardless of where you played. Now granted, outside shooting doesn’t always translate immediately into the NBA, as the line is a few feet farther back and defense is usually a whole lot stingier than college, but it’s also incredibly uncommon for a player to go from being a 30 percent shooter in college to a 40 percent shooter in the pros, so that is promising, especially since he’ll be able to learn from one of the league’s all-time best pure shooters, Reddick, night in and night out. After watching Anderson and TLC knock-down only 32 percent of their 3-point shots over the last year, Shamet’s deep ball accuracy will be a pleasant surprise.

In the modern NBA, you can never have enough shooters.

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In addition to being an NBA-ready shooter right away, Shamet also brings something to the table that none of his predecessors have before: secondary playmaking. Even though the Sixers are already spoiled with a plethora of ball-handling options, like Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz, and T.J. McConnell, a team’s scoring efficiency becomes a whole lot higher when a team has multiple ball-handlers on the court at the same time, and if Shamet were to eventually develop into a rotational shooting guard, he could fit perfectly on the court alongside any of these players, or run the show solo.

Had shamet been on the roster last year, the Sixers may have been able to better matchup against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, where Simmons was neutralized by Brad Stevens‘ expert coaching job. Adding a secondary ball-handler with the ability to switch off on either guard position defensively is practically essential when playing a 6 ft 10 point guard like Simmons.

That is why the Sixers traded up to draft Fultz after all.

Now granted, Shamet is nowhere near as elite an athlete as Fultz, but barring a disastrous shoulder injury he should be a much better shooter right out of the gate, making his fit on the team incredibly easy to project.

To put it simply: Simmons’ presence on the roster forces the entire team to play differently.

On most teams, Saric would be considered a great starting-caliber power forward, but in the Sixers’ scheme, which often requires the 6-foot-10 Croatian forward to cover a position down on much more athletic small forwards, he’s routinely found his name in trade rumors. Similarly, even though Redick may be one of the top-5 best shooters in all of basketball right now, his below-average defense and inability to adequately switch off and cover the opposing team’s best guards has at times left the Sixers vulnerable defensively, and forced the 6-foot-9 Robert Covington to cover much smaller, more athletic point guards.

Even for the best defensive forward in basketball, that’s a pretty tough task.

This simple fact makes the team’s decision to select Shamet 26th overall, regardless of where mock drafts had him going, such a great decision that deserves some credit. Shamet’s ability to play both on and off the ball, while effectively covering both positions, could be a major boon for the Sixers down the road as they search for Redick’s eventual replacement.

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Whether paired with Ben Simmons or Markelle Fultz in the backcourt, Landry Shamet already looks like a steal who could conceivably develop into the Philadelphia 76ers starting shooting guard for the foreseeable future. A great value for a late first round pick if you ask me.