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Summer League shows why Doc Rivers should be more flexible


The Summer League Sixers didn’t go on to win the title, but there were quite a few players who flashed their potential. Players like Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, and Paul Reed all showed why they should get a bump up in the rotation.

Maxey is sort of obvious by this point. He had some crucial playoff performances like in Game 6 against the Hawks. As much as Doc Rivers tends to be against playing young guys in big spots, he simply couldn’t ignore Maxey by the end of the postseason. In the Summer League, the former Kentucky Wildcat averaged 26 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists before leaving to host his own basketball camp. Oh, and he just happened to shoot a casual 50 percent from the field.

Whether he’ll be in the 2021 starting lineup depends on quite a few factors, including what happens with the Australian elephant in the room (not Matisse Thybulle). Even prior to Summer League though, at least a backup unit point guard spot was a virtual certainty for Maxey.

Tyrese Maxey’s success came as no surprise, but there were other Sixers who shined on the Summer League stage too.

Isaiah Joe on the other hand entered the Summer League in a much different position. The Sixers re-signed Furkan Korkmaz to a three year deal and brought back starting SF/SG Danny Green. There’s probably not a ton of Joe minutes up for grabs, but he showed why he deserves to be more than a victory cigar unit player. In four games, Joe averaged 14 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. The Sixers always need three point shooting and the former Razorback shot 37.5 percent from deep.

Joe just looked really crisp as both a shooter and a facilitator. His handles and ability to navigate the defense helped him quite a lot.

Paul Reed was astonishingly good in the Summer League. In addition to all of his G-League accolades from the 2020-21 season, Reed won a spot on the NBA’s All-Summer League second team. His 27 points and 20 rebounds vs. Minnesota accounted for just the second 20-20 game in SL history. Reed also looked more comfortable on defense than he had previously.

18 year old Jaden Springer had a comfortable outing against the Utah Jazz with a 21-point game. Out of the gate, Springer’s shooting mechanics looked a little rough, but he put it together in the last few games.

There were a few more impressive Summer League performances from the Sixers. However, these four players are the ones with real chances to push for consistent rotation minutes this season. Springer might be a tough sell for Rivers, but he should at the very least get into the aforementioned victory cigar minutes early on.

Joe and Reed have to get some shine for the 2021 regular season Sixers. It’ll be a little bit difficult to figure out where Reed can play with the signing of Andre Drummond, but he seems playable with Joel Embiid at the very least since both are willing shooters. There could be a nice 4-5 dynamic there. Joe, like I mentioned, is going to be stuck behind quite a few of the guards. His abilities to create his own shot and come off the pick and roll effectively are valuable though. At the very least, he seems like a good change of pace player.

Rivers is very much a veteran players coach. That’s not going to change this year. Being more flexible with guys that are gaining momentum should still be an option though. Perhaps players like Springer and Charles Bassey are too far away from rotation minutes right now, but Maxey, Joe, and Reed shouldn’t be. If they have the hot hand, Rivers has to let them cook.