Year-In-Review: Carl Landry
Having the presence of a veteran is important, especially for a team that began the season with 12 players who had fewer than three years’ NBA experience on their respective resumes. When that veteran, though, is capapble of offering tangible contributions on top of imparting the wisdom and perspective he’s accumulated over the course of a proven career, his value can become that much greater.
Such was the case this season with Carl Landry and the 76ers.
A 32-year old big man, Landry was acquired by the Sixers as part of their July 9th, 2015 trade with Sacramento, the same deal that also netted Nik Stauskas and the right to potentially swap 2016 first-round picks with the Kings. After spending the first two months of the campaign recovering from off-season surgery on his right wrist, Landry made his Sixers debut on December 23rd in his hometown of Milwaukee. Looking comfortable and playing aggressive despite his extensive absence, Landry went right on the attack against the Bucks, reaching the free throw line eight times in his first quarter of action. He finished the night with 10 points and five rebounds in 13 minutes.
“Prior to coming back [in] Milwaukee, I was practicing, trying to watch a lot of film, and trying to do my best at getting back into basketball shape,” said Landry, when asked earlier in April to reflect on the factors that enabled him to produce so quickly upon his return from rehab. The Purdue product posted double-figure scoring totals in five of his first seven appearances.
“I think playing hard is another talent that gets overlooked,” Landry said. “Just tried to play hard as I could. That’s probably why, from the outside looking in, it probably felt like I didn’t miss a beat.”
Through the middle stages of the Sixers’ season, Landry’s minutes tapered off a bit, as rookie power forward Richaun Holmes demonstrated he was capable of taking on increased responsibilities. Landry was subsequently held out of 10 of the team’s 16 contests between January 20th and February 28th.
February 29th, however, represented a noteworthy date in respect to Landry’s involvement in the Sixers’ rotation. That evening, Brett Brown announced Jahlil Okafor would be out indefinitely with a right shin contusion. Two weeks later, the Sixers disclosed that a small meniscus tear was discovered in Okafor’s right knee, and that he would be sidelined for the rest of the year.
Already down Okafor, the Sixers’ wing and frontcourt rotations suffered a slew of additional injuries in the middle of March, as Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, Nerlens Noel, and Holmes all missed games. As a result, the need for Landry became that much more dire, and he responded in kind.
Over his final 19 outings, Landry was extremely efficient, manufacturing 12.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in just 20.1 minutes per game. Amidst this span, he converted 55.6 percent of his field goal attempts, and 76.6 percent of his free throws. He turned in three 20-point efforts during this period as well, including a 22-point showing in the Sixers’ April 5th 107-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
“Personally, I think I’m in more of a rhythm now than I ever was,” Landry said at the end of the season. “That’s just work. That’s putting in a collective amount of work over the past few months.”
In the 18 instances this season that Landry logged at least 15 minutes in a game, he generated at least 10 points on 15 occasions, and at least six rebounds 12 times.
Following that match-up against the Pelicans in April, Landry would find himself on the shelf for the Sixers’ last four games, due to back spasms.
Season Shot Chart:
There were a few of these for Landry, and the three games that come first to mind all occurred in the home stretch of the forward’s season, before back spasms sidelined him for the Sixers’ final four outings.
On March 20th, in the Sixers’ 120-105 setback to the Boston Celtics, Landry was dialed in, knocking down 10 of his 18 field goal attempts, while going six for six from the free throw line. He notched 26 points and eight rebounds, his first time reaching those two marks in the same game in nearly six years. He previously did so when he put up 30 points and eight boards in a March 26th, 2010 outing for Sacramento in Boston.
A week later, on March 27th at Golden State, Landry stepped up again while starting at center in place of Nerlens Noel. Landry racked up 12 points in the opening quarter, and closed the night with 22 points and eight rebounds overall.
Then, in what ended up being his last appearance of the season, Landry stroked 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the Sixers’ April 5th win against New Orleans. Late in the fourth quarter, when Landry took a trip to the foul line, fans in attendance noted the impact he had on the game by directing light-hearted, but sincere, “M-V-P” chants his way. He singled out that moment as a highlight from his first go-round with the Sixers.
“The Philadelphia fans are blue collar basketball fans,” said Landry. “It made me feel really good that they appreciate the hard work that I put in to help this team out as much as I could throughout the season. To hear that personally, it definitely made me feel like the hard work paid off.”
In throwback fashion, the veteran Landry demonstrated that he was a consistently effective jump shooter this past season. According to stats.nba.com, 114 of Landry’s 250 field goal tries (45.6 percent) were defined as being taken from “mid-range” distance. He hit 47.4 percent of those shots.
Further underscoring Landry’s mid-range touch, he nailed 49.0 percent of his “spot up” attempts (25 for 51), and connected on 51.3 percent of his “pick-and-pop” tries (20-39).
Landry also displayed a rugged, bruising side to his game, as he was never afraid to assert himself in the lane. He deposited 56.1 percent of his “post up” shots (23 for 41) this year.
The following is not meant to take away from or minimize the significance of any of the traditional basketball plays that Landry made for the Sixers this season, but one of the lasting impressions he left this year was the constant, infectious energy he brought to the club, whether on the court, or the bench.
In the Sixers’ February 28th visit to Orlando, Landry did not get in the game; he was listed as a “Coach’s Decision.” Still, the second-longest tenured player on the team’s youthful roster wouldn’t let a dip in playing time dampen his spirits, as his reaction to a Richaun Holmes’ dunk shows.
“There was a time during the season where I wasn’t seeing the floor,” said Landry, explaining the mindset he adopted in January and February, when his minutes were limited. “I felt like I wanted to affect the game and the only way that I knew was how was just to be a great teammate, and that’s what I was doing.”
After putting his ninth NBA season in the books, Landry said his plan was to take a “few weeks off.” When he’s ready to resume his training, he’ll do so both in Milwaukee, his hometown, and at Purdue, his alma mater, which is located in West Lafayette, Indiana.
“I have some goals I want to set coming into training camp next year, and I’m going to attack those and accomplish those goals this summer,” Landry said purposefully back in early April.
As for some specifics?
“Definitely want to lose 15 pounds. Skill development. Develop more of a three-point shot, a more consistent three-point shot, at least a threat.”
Landry went four for four from outside the arc over his last two games.