The Philadelphia 76ers (1-0) faced the Atlanta Hawks (1-1) in Summer League action on Thursday night. Sophomores Tyrese Maxey, Paul Reed, and Isaiah Joe combined for 72 points as the Sixers outlasted the Hawks in overtime.
Let’s take a look at what happened in the affair.
Paul Reed’s path to minutes in his sophomore campaign might be high-energy hustle play. That isn’t to say he should be limited to those avenues of productivity. He’ll show more as he gets more minutes. But, his motor is going to be there when all else fails. Whether it’s flashing to the rim for emphatic put-back dunks or chasing loose balls out of bounds in an effort to keep plays alive–like it was in the first quarter on Thursday–Reed’s athleticism and mobility have proven to translate at the game’s highest level. As his NBA instincts improve with development, that’s going to be his ticket to the party in his second NBA season.
One thing that isn’t going to get him on the court in the 2021-22 season is isolation play. Summer League is a playground of freedom to experiment with new toys. But, Reed’s role in real NBA minutes will not involve self-provisioned scoring in one-on-one scenarios. It doesn’t help his case that he lost control of the ball and got all backboard on a layup attempt out of an isolation on the block, either. Nice try, though, Paul.
There exists a very real, if not probable, chance that Tyrese Maxey is the Sixers’ best finisher not named Joel Embiid this upcoming season. It comes down to his touch with both hands and his ability to play off one foot. Maxey’s vertical athleticism is slightly underrated, and he’s so speedy on the floor that he glides to the rim once he jumps off a burst to the rim. With that athleticism off one foot carrying him through the air, he has time to maneuver around obstacles to find an angle to finish. That skill should always translate because it’s rooted in touch and physical gifts. He’s doing it against guys that might not see an NBA court this season, but size at the rim is size at the rim.
We know Maxey has tremendous touch and craftiness at the rim. What he needs is to develop confidence as a shooter off the dribble. Maxey needs to be comfortable with elevating for jumpers upon clearing screens. When his touch as a shooter develops, defenders will be forced to go over the screens with him. At that point, Maxey will have the tools needed to truly take over games. So, while he was having no such luck connecting on his deep attempts in the first half, it’s encouraging to see him pull the trigger without hesitation.
It’s difficult to say with any degree of certainly exactly what Rayjon Tucker’s role is on the court. His athleticism is largely based in verticality. He can jump with the best of them. But, he doesn’t really exhibit control or serviceable basketball skills on a play-to-play basis. So, he’s not really leveraging that athleticism. He’s only 23-years-old, so you can credibly say that he’s still very raw. Perhaps there is an NBA-level defensive identity to his game. He certainly has the physical traits needed to dig into a stance and lock down an offensive player. However, he’s perhaps overly aware of his athleticism. So, he’ll gamble at times on defense because he thinks he can recover. He can get away with it more often than not in Summer League. But, that tendency will handcuff him to the bench if he does it against real NBA players.
The Rookie Among Rookies
Jaden Springer looks every bit a young, raw rookie. And that’s fine right now. It is somewhat discouraging that he especially sticks out as a rookie in a dense population of rookies. He’s trying to adjust to NBA speed on the fly. That speed is somewhat expected, given that he has four teammates that played in the NBA this past season. The concern is that his three-point shot falls far short of NBA distance right now. He needs an abundance of time to square up off the catch and generate power under the shot. So, he has quite a bit of ground to make up before he’s making a respectable amount of threes off the dribble–if ever. He is quite passive at the moment, as evidenced by his willingness to stand idly in the corners while his teammates dominate the ball.
Part of that is that there’s a pecking order. The other part is that he’s clearly unsure of what to do off the ball. That will come with time. However, Summer League is not really the context where you shake off concerns about passivity so easily. That concern is especially fair considering Springer played heavy minutes off the ball at Tennessee.
The Sixers will play the Boston Celtics (3-0) on Saturday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 PM, EST. You can catch the action on ESPN3.