Landry Shamet's success highlights why the Sixers' roster is flawed

Sixers' rookie Landry Shamet is having a good rookie season. It's the first time in a long while that the team has had a late round pick contribute this early, which is one of the reasons why the roster is bare.

Sometimes in life current events inadvertently remind you of the past. Whether or not the events have any relevance to each other is....... well, irrelevant.

As the Sixers try to distance themselves from the Bryan Colangelo era, which ended because of "Burner-gate," you can't help but think about that era every time you watch a game now. Landry Shamet, the 26th pick in this past NBA draft, keeps bringing that era to mind, although he wasn't even a Colangelo pick.

Shamet was not a popular choice when the Sixers drafted him. A lot of draft experts and scouts graded him as a second rounder. People loved the 6'5 combo guard's shooting -- he shot 43% from three on 5.1 attempts per game during his three years at Wichita State -- but people were concerned with the defensive potential given his rail-thin 180-pound frame. But as it turns out, Shamet has been nothing short of spectacular (relative to expectations, of course), as he immediately carved out a role in the Sixers' rotation at the start of the season. The Sixers' coaching staff has quickly instilled the utmost trust and confidence in him, running him through the same dribble hand-off and off-screen actions that they run for JJ Redick. It's safe to say the Sixers nailed that pick, and for a team that lacking depth at the guard and wing positions, finding a steal like Shamet late in the first round is a welcome sight.

Unfortunately, the Shamet pick also reminds us of the serious flaws in the Sixers current roster construction. That comes from the team's late first and second-round picks, as well as other assets, that were squandered by Colangelo's mismanagement.

The foundation is already set when you have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. However, it doesn't stop there. You also need to be able to cash in on other assets to maintain flexibility in case you want to make a roster move for the development of the team. Hitting on late round draft picks is one of the ways to fill out your roster before your young core of stars becomes expensive. Ideally, you want to surround these two mega-talents with players in the 6'4 to 6'9 range who can switch, shoot and attack closeouts.

Of course, picking a player later in the draft is easier said than done. The later the draft pick, the lower your chances of finding a solid NBA player. But things like trading away future picks, stashing players because you don't have enough open roster spots, or trading drafted players for cash because you want to preserve cap space are self-inflicting wounds that make your job even harder down the road. Those little things that seem harmless at the time add up in a death by one-thousand cuts scenario.

Let's start with how Colangelo handled the 2016 draft. For starters, I'm not giving him credit for drafting Ben Simmons because I strongly believe that Sam Hinkie --who resigned two months before the draft-- would've also chosen Simmons first; not doing so would've gone against everything Hinkie was trying to do. So we start with two wings that the Sixers drafted in the late first round of the 2016 draft, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Furkan Korkmaz. Neither player will be on the roster by the 2019 season. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, the 24th pick in 2016, was a throw-in as a part of a three-team trade before the season started. Furkan Korkmaz, who was stashed when he was picked 26th, had his third-year option declined by the Sixers a month ago (though Korkmaz has been playing well since that happened because, of course, that was going to happen to the Sixers).

Another example of mismanaged assets is waiting too long to trade Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor at their peak value, knowing that you had a logjam at the center position on the roster heading in the 2016-17 season. And like everyone had said before the season started, there weren't enough minutes to go around for four centers. Noel and Okafor's value took a nosedive every game, so Philadelphia had to trade Noel at the trade deadline for Justin Anderson and a highly protected first round pick that turned into two second-round picks in 2017 and 2020. Justin Anderson never could get consistent minutes, had injuries, and then was thrown into the three-player trade with Luwawu-Cabarrot. The 2017 second round pick? We'll get to that later. Can't forget that Colangelo also sent Okafor home for a game to try and boost his trade value That failed. Miserably.

The 2017 draft was another thing entirely, not because of the Markelle Fultz saga, which I'm not even going to count. It's the other decisions on that draft night that made very little sense; they make even less sense today. Sit down for this one.

After drafting Fultz, the Sixers continued to make moves. They traded a top-20 protected first-round pick in 2020 --a pick they got from the Thunder via the Jerami Grant trade, another player the Sixers' could use right now-- to the Orlando Magic to move back into the first round at the 25th spot. The team needed wings and guards in the worst way, so were they thinking Josh Hart or Kyle Kuzma? Both players worked out for the Sixers, and in Hart's case, the team saw him play constantly at Villanova. Nope. Instead, the front office decided to draft Anzejs Pasecniks, a center out of Latvia. What makes it worse is that the Colangelo regime seemed to have pre-determined that they were going to stash Pasecniks overseas because they didn't have any open roster spots. Who occupied two of those roster spots? Jahlil Okafor, who still hadn't been traded, and Nik Stauskus, who was consistently not playing well. In the 2017-18 season, Okafor and Stauskus were eventually traded to the Brooklyn Nets. A trade were the Sixers THREW IN a second-round pick in exchange for Trevor Booker, who was cut two months later to make room for Ersan Ilyasova, who was added via the buyout market.

So, basically, the Sixers threw away a future first-round pick to trade back into the late first round, only to take a center who will most likely never play a minute for the Sixers. Meanwhile, Hart and Kuzma are playing key roles for the Lakers. And you do this to preserve cap space for free agency? I'm all for preserving cap space, but if you draft Hart or Kuzma and you're so worried about cap space, can't you move those players down the road if a big fish free agent wanted to sign with you? That draft night move is the one Colangelo move that I hate the most. Just an unnecessary waste of assets.

To make things worse, the Sixers had FOUR second-round picks in the 2017 draft, and despite the fact that a lot of talented wings and guards were still available, the front office decided to effectively punt the round.

  • Passing on Semi Ojeleye to draft Jonah Bolden with the 36th pick, and then stash him.
  • Drafting Juwan Evans with the 39th pick (that 2017 second-rounder from Dallas from the Noel trade), and then trading him to the Clippers for cash.
  • Drafting swingman Sterling Brown at 46 and then trading him to the Bucks for cash.
  • Stashing Mathias Lessort with the 50th pick.

Of the 2017 Sixer draft picks, only Bolden and Fultz are on the current roster. The 2017 draft was a succession of disastrous steps. The Colangelo regime didn't even try.

I've repeatedly gone through the list of assets burned by Colangelo in his two years as the General Manager of the Sixers, and every time it is still unbelievable to me. Noel traded and nothing to show for it. Jerami Grant traded and you throw away the future first-round pick you got in return for no reason. You had to GIVE A SECOND-ROUND PICK to unload Okafor. Then you either miss or give away late first or second-round picks for cash.

It all adds up.

Now you look at the Sixers' roster. It's incredibly thin at the wing and guard spots. The flexibility that comes with having a lot of assets? Vanished.

The Sixers went all in on a trade for their big star, Jimmy Butler, by giving away two starters on valuable contracts. It's a trade any General Manager would've done, but that trade tore down the team's depth even more. If you had assets, such as draft picks or players that panned out as rotation guys in the first place, then maybe you wouldn't have had to give up Robert Covington in the Jimmy Butler trade. Maybe you could've traded Dario, Josh Hart, and some other pieces that you didn't punt on, instead. Now you would have had a Simmons-Butler-Redick-Embiid-Covington lineup that would've been a destroyer-of-worlds defensive unit for the next 3-4 years.

But instead, you have a big 3 in Butler, Simmons, and Embiid, and a serious lack of two-way guard and wings. It doesn't help that rookie Zhaire Smith went through the Sixers' rookie ritual of hurting his foot and then having a bad sesame allergy reaction, and Wilson Chandler was hurt to start the year. But relying heavily on those two to contribute is kind of making my point about how we got here.

The 2018 draft was refreshing in a lot of ways. The Sixers took Mikal Bridges with the 10th pick and then traded him to the Suns for Miami's 2021 first-round pick and Zhaire Smith, who was "1B" on Brett Brown's big board. Then they found a steal in the late first round with Landry Shamet. Hopefully second-round pick Shake Milton can show some promise on his two-way rookie contract and then turn into a contributor down the road. Moves like that are what Elton Brand and his team are going to have to do, because keeping Butler, Simmons, and Embiid is going to be expensive very soon. The wasted moves of years past have made the margin for error even smaller, which means constructing this roster will be that much more difficult.

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