Philadelphia 76ers: Landry Shamet is a better Belinelli than Marco Belinelli

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

While it may have been shortsighted to allow Marco Belinelli to walk in free agency, Landry Shamet has easily filled the ex-Philadelphia 76er’s shoes.

On Wednesday night, a packed Wells Fargo Center crowd was treated to the return of everyone’s favorite former Philadelphia 76ers sixth man shooter Marco Belinelli; the one who got away.

Though he only wore the red white and blue uniform for 38 heart-pounding games, Belinelli quickly captured the hearts of fans all over the 215 thanks to his propensity for taking acrobatic and almost nonsensical shots that always seem to go in regardless of the percentage.

Sure, he couldn’t play defense to save his life, but Belinelli’s 13.6 points a game ranked fifth on the team down the stretch and was a big reason why they were able to string off 15 straight wins to close out the regular season even without Joel Embiid clogging up the paint.

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But with Belinelli back in the building that made him a fringe folk hero, it was abundantly clear that the Sixers no longer need him, as the team has a new Marco Belinelli who’s better at being Marco Belinelli than Marco Belinelli, Landry Shamet.

Landry Shamet is the man.

The unquestioned steal of the back half of the 2018 NBA Draft’s first round, Shamet has been one of the best surprises of the season, leading his team in 3-point shooting percentage, and steadily rising up the ranks to his current spot as the team’s fifth-leading scorer (8.4 ppg).

In 49 games so far this season, Shamet has made a 3 in 43 of them, and tied the franchise record for most three-pointers made in a game with eight on the eighth against the Washington Wizards.

He’s also steadily grown into his role as a J.J. Redick-clone coming off the bench and has become almost a mirror image of the 34-year-old Duke legend, a welcomed development for a team with no apparent heir at shooting guard at the beginning of the season.

Furthermore, while Belinelli technically outscored Shamet in Wednesday night’s contest, the former looked slow and every part of a 32-year-old who’s already logged 771 games in the NBA alongside a robust European basketball career.

Shamet, on the other hand, may be Philly’s most athletically gifted player under 6-foot-6, and with some seasoning on the defensive end of the court, he could become every part of a true 3-and-D NBA shooting guard.

But that’s not all that makes Shamet special.

Unlike both Reddick and Belinelli, Shamet spent his college career playing point guard for the Wichita State Shockers, valuable experience that could make him a dangerous secondary playmaking option in the starting five in the way many had hoped Markelle Fultz would have been when he was drafted first overall out of Washington in 2017.

Because of Ben Simmons‘ size, teams have at times been able to neutralize him as a primary ball-handler, and disrupt the flow of Philly’s offense, see Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but having a player like Shamet who could take over primary ball-handling duties for stretches of a game without substituting could be invaluable to a team desperately looking to implement a switch-heavy starting five.

The options are really endless if Shamet continues to perform and develop at his current rate.

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So while it may have stung to watch Marco Belinelli sign a two-year $12 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs without even receiving a counteroffer, it’s clear the decision to draft Landry Shamet, a player that many assumed wasn’t even worthy of a first-round pick, has paid off greater than anyone could have hoped. Philadelphia, meet your next great sixth-man and potentially so much more.