After watching Landry Shamet drop 19 points in his first trip back to face the Philadelphia 76ers, it’s hard not to feel downcast over what could have been.
Okay, technically that isn’t true, as the Sixers drafted Korkaz one year before Shamet transitioned from Wichita State to the NBA, but in 2018-19, the two were hardly comparable. Measuring in at 6-foot-4, 188 pounds, Shamet quickly ascended from a late-first round pick overshadowed by his rookie classmate Zhaire Smith, to a certified sharp-shooting foil for J.J. Redick coming off the bench.
For a time, Shamet looked like the sort of long-term piece that should have been a fixture of the team for years, either as a certified sixth man or as an eventual starting two-guard.
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Fast forward not even five months into Shamet’s rookie season, and the then-21-year-old was gone, traded to the Los Angeles Clippers along with Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, and a pair of picks for eventual max contract signee Tobias Harris, his best friend Boban Marjanovic, and everyone’s favorite hot-‘n-cold beekeeper Mike Scott.
And just like that, in a blink of an eye, Shamet was gone – transplanted to the bright lights and incredibly high gas prices of Los Angeles.
From there, Hollywood Shamet – the name I will furthermore refer to him as due to his Elton Brand-initiated heel turn – finished out the season as the Clippers’ starting two-guard alongside Patrick Beverley – hiking his season averages to 10.9 points in 27.8 minutes of action while knocking down 45 percent of his six 3 point attempts a game.
Fortunately for fans in Philly, Shamet has faded into the background after the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George… wait, what? He’s actually playing better in 2019-20 than 2018-19? Well, that’s not good.
Averaging 10.1 points in 28.5 minutes of action, Shamet is still the Clippers’ most consistent long-range shooter and has effortlessly fit the team’s new two-star identity, as pretty much every team can use a switchable shooter with the athleticism needed to develop into a two-way player down the line.
Do you know who could use a player like that? The Philadelphia 76ers, even now.
Sure, the team has Korkmaz, who, despite putting up a goose egg against the Clippers, has been a godsend so far this season, but could you imagine the team having… both? I mean they did last year, and much like in Philly’s 34th win of the season, Shamet was by far the more explosive of the two, but unless you employ a backcourt featuring Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, a team can never have enough 40 percent 3 point shooters, especially with the ebbs and flows of an 82 game NBA season.
Could you even imagine running out Shamet in the role currently filled by Alec Burks, as a secondary playmaker who can hunt for his own shot on a second unit, while providing Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson with a reliable outlet pass on the wings? Think about the two-man game made famous by Embiid and Redick back in the day. We’ve been robbed of oh so many motion screens.
But hey, if we still had Shamet, we probably wouldn’t have Harris, the Heat (and their pick) would still be bad, and we may still have Jimmy Butler locked in as Philly’s third star… wait, that actually sounds pretty good. Man, talk about a downer.
Like it or not, this is the Philadelphia 76ers team we have, and after routing the Los Angeles Clippers in commanding fashion in the final game before the All-Star break, it’s safe to say they have enough firepower to polish off any team in the NBA on the hallowed hardwood of the Wells Fargo Center. But man, when you watch Landry Shamet return “home” for the first time since being traded last February and drop 19 points in 36 minutes, it hard not to feel a bit downcast over what could have been this season, next season, and beyond.