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Carl Landry: The 76ers’ Token Veteran

With another NBA season back in full swing, it’s time to dive headlong into all the minor quirks that make following the league so much fun. If you take a look at the list of names on the Sixers training camp roster, it becomes quickly apparent that one of these things is not like the others. Of the 20 players on the team, only one of them was born in the 1980’s: Carl Landry.

With Jason Thompson and subsequently, Gerald Wallace, both exiting the door, the 32-year-old Landry is the last remaining candidate for the role of “Sixers veteran leader”—the position previously held by Luc Mbah a Moute and  Richardson—but no word if there was any ceremonial passing of the torch. So far, Landry is saying all the right things about imparting his years of wisdom to the Sixers’ Generation Z:

The extreme youth of the Sixers roster is no secret and has literally been a joking matter on occasion; Jason Richardson received a lovely care package of adult diapers, robe, and baby food for his birthday last season. Still, despite the extreme rebuild, veterans have been more than just a token presence on the court for the Sixers. Last season, Mbah a Moute ended up starting 61 games for the team and was arguably the 2nd-best defender behind Nerlens Noel for a Sixers unit that was a respectable 12th in defensive efficiency.

Now, with Landry settling among a group where nine of the 20 players have never played an NBA minute, what can the Sixers expect from him this season? At least for the next couple months, nothing at all. Landry underwent wrist surgery this past summer, and while he had the cast removed a few weeks ago, he is not expected back until November. However, once he returns to the court, Sixers fans can expect Landry to play at least some role with the team.

Even last season, amidst the tumultuous upheaval in Sacramento, Landry was still around his career averages of 15.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per 36 minutes. He has made a living in the mid-range and could put that proficiency to use in Philadelphia. Across his eight NBA seasons, Landry has shot above 42 percent from 10-15 feet and over 40 percent  from at least 16 feet. Both figures come in slightly above average across all positions, notably good for a big man. While it’s not the three-point spacing teams have come to expect from their power forwards in the modern NBA, one can imagine how he might help open things up a bit for Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel to operate on the offensive end.

Guys like Landry aren’t the sexy stories you hear about heading into the season. After all, who cares about a bench player on a team with no playoff aspirations who might prove the difference between 25 or 26 wins? Still, there’s something admirable about a guy professionally going about his business in what some outsiders have deemed a toxic situation.

Until they come up with an advanced metric for guys fresh out of college having someone to look up to in the locker room, these stories about veteran leadership will continue to sound cliche. Nevertheless, Carl Landry will be the next man up to prove there’s more to the role of Sixers token veteran than meets the eye.

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