Sixers Have Unlikely Blossoming 3-Point Shooter in G-League

Getty Zhaire Smith of the Philadelphia 76ers.

It’s no secret the Sixers need more shooters. Gone are the days of JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli.

A reliable wing player who can knock down stand-up three-pointers at will could be the difference between a first-round exit and lengthy playoff run. Luckily, they might have one maturing down in the G-League.

Zhaire Smith, the Sixers’ first-round pick (16th overall) in the 2018 draft, has seen an odd arc to start his young NBA career. He was selected as a developmental player, a lock-down defender who may eventually turn into a sniper. Well, the metamorphosis has begun.

The 20-year-old is averaging 13.3 points per game while shooting 36.6-percent from three-point land in 18 games. On Monday, Smith exploded for 14 points, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. He’s making progress.

“I’m trying to hunt threes now, I’m not trying to go to the rim and dunk,” Smith said, via Yahoo! Sports. “I’m being lazy now, trying to shoot the threes. Give me three-balls.”

Smith’s effort fueled an impressive 119-109 victory for the Wilmington Blue Coats over the South Bay Lakers. If the kid keeps up the pace, he may find himself on the big club sooner rather than later. Per Yahoo! Sports, Smith has shot 41.5-percent from three since Dec. 3.

Sixers Coach Challenges Team to Start ‘Hunting’ 3-Pointers

Has the Sixers need to connect on more three-pointers been greatly exaggerated? It was a perceived area of weakness coming into the season but it hasn’t been all bad.

The Sixers have received timely outside shooting at times from Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson. Far from a strength, it’s been middle of the road. The Sixers rank No. 18 in three-point percentage in the NBA at 35.2-percent and No. 21 in three-pointers made at 481. Not too shabby.

It wasn’t quite so pretty in Monday afternoon’s 117-111 win over Brooklyn. The Sixers shot 33.3-percent from three-point land (13-of-39), largely led by Harris and Korkmaz. Everyone knows they need to get better, especially head coach Brett Brown.

“Of course,” coach Brett Brown told reporters when asked if he wants his team to make more three-pointers on Jan. 8, via New York Post. “This is where my problem is. This team needs to find more 3-point opportunities. We do. We need to hunt 3s in a more definitive way than we currently are.”