Days after burying a critical triple from the top of the arc to permanently put his team ahead of the Miami HEAT in overtime, Dakota Mathias was waived, somewhat surprisingly, by the Sixers. Some speculated that he was a casualty of a rebellious move. Maybe the franchise was trying to avoid having to play games when the team’s most important players were in COVID protocol. Others suspected that a trade could be on the horizon. Maybe that was why the Sixers opened the roster spot. All of those theories were debunked, however. The Sixers signed Rayjon Tucker to a two-way contract six days after waiving Mathias.
“I think the thing that stands out right away about Rayjon is his athleticism and his downhill driving.”
Not much was known about Tucker at the time. There’s still much to be seen and learned about what he brings to the table. He made his Blue Coat debut today. He scored 22 points and registered a G-League career-high 3 blocks in a five-point victory over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The season, just one game deep, is in its infant stage. But, there were some intriguing themes of Tucker’s debut. He demonstrated remarkable athleticism around the rim, rejecting a finish in the closing minutes to thrust a dagger into the Mad Ants as they attempted to get back into the game.
Tucker also showed some promising versatility as a playmaker, manipulating heavy close-outs to get into the lane and then kicking to open teammates on the perimeter. Those downhill attacks are part of why the Sixers’ organization liked Tucker, head coach Connor Johnson says.
“We saw him play a lot in the G-League and our general manager, Matt Lilly, has seen all these players. I think open line of communication about players that have played well, and he played well against us,” Johnson said after today’s victory.
“The thing that stands out right away about Rayjon is his athleticism and his downhill driving. I think he had fourteen points today on just getting to the line and being a physical finisher at the rim. So we’re really pleased and happy to have him on our team and help him take the next step in his career.”
“He’s going to be able to get into the paint, and most of the time he’s going to be able to have his shot or his layup or his dunk.”
His teammates would seem to agree with their coach’s observations. Rayjon Tucker’s playmaking shine brightly. His leadership does as well, according to tenured teammate Jared Brownridge.
“Rayjon is amazing. We talk about it in practice all the time. He’s going to be able to get into the paint. Most of the time he’s going to be able to have his shot or his layup or his dunk. But, whenever he doesn’t, I’m going to be out there spotting up for three. So, we’ve talked about that early, ever since meeting each other. We’ve created that chemistry early as well,” Brownridge said after today’s victory.
“We’ve been taking what we learned in practice, and putting it out there on the floor. But, a guy like Rayjon brings so much to the table, so much to our team, especially the intensity he has on the defensive end and offensive end. The way he communicates with everybody, the way he pumps everybody up. He’s a great leader to have in the locker room. I’m glad that we have him on our team.”
Those are inspiring words from Brownridge, who led the Blue Coats with 28 points on nineteen field goal attempts. He also dished 6 assists in their season-opener on Thursday.
There’s much to be learned about Rayjon Tucker, but he made a tremendous first impression on Thursday afternoon.