Boy oh boy, Isaiah Joe can flippin’ go.
Earning his first minutes of action in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform since Game 7 against Washington in the playoffs – he technically saw the court in Game 3 versus Atlanta, but it was only for 50 seconds – Joe and his frontcourtmate, Tyrese Maxey, put on a show for the Philly fans in attendance; putting up a combined 36 for the Summer League Sixers.
While Maxey generated the majority of the headlines for his impressive 36 point performance and Jaden Springer also mustered a fair bit of coverage due to his first official look in a PHILA uniform, Joe’s performance has, dare I say, been a little overlooked, as if dropping 15 in 23.7 minutes on 4-8 shooting from beyond the arc isn’t impressive enough to earn some shine.
But do you know who surely did take notice of Joe’s summer debut? Opposing GMs, including the ones who could be in play on a potential Ben Simmons deal. If Joe’s hot street continues, don’t be surprised if his name starts to come up in potential star-for-star mega trades.
Joe might be good enough to generate buzz outside of the Philadelphia 76ers.
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For months now, the Philadelphia 76ers’ asset pool has been considered roughly the same regardless of what disgruntled superstar they are linked to.
While the hypothetical parameters of any given hypothetical trade could vary depending on the individual needs of a hypothetical partner, for the most part, some collection of Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, and draft picks have been the bounty Daryl Morey could package together to land his star player of choice, assuming, of course, said player is actually available.
Now to me, the inclusion of Maxey and Thybulle in a hypothetical team alongside Simmons has always been perplexing. Don’t get me wrong; both are quality players who could thrive in starting roles with a bit more seasoning, but neither are the sort of shooter you’d probably want to deploy Simmons in an offense tailor-made for his style of play.
Could either player be moved? Most definitely, if a team like Portland values the duo highly enough to acquire them in a trade centered around arguably the best player in their franchise’s history, another team would surely surrender something of value for them too.
But, in such a scenario, wouldn’t it be bad optics to land a pair of sub-25-year-old rising talents in a trade for Simmons only to trade them away shortly thereafter? Wouldn’t a fanbase still reeling from the loss of their collective favorite player get a bit fatigued by another trade shipping out players they just started to like a few months later?
Enter Joe, Isaiah.
As fans of the Sixers already know, Joe is a fearless shooter who has never seen an attempt he didn’t like. He recorded three games with 10-plus 3 point attempts as a rookie, three more with at least five, and has the rare distinction of having averaged 10.6 3 point attempts a night during his second and final season with the Razorbacks of Arkansas. While detractors can point out that Joe is one of the skinniest players in the NBA – though he looks a little bulkier in the Summer League – and he may never be more than a serviceable wing defender, his ability to knock down baskets from beyond the arc should keep him employed at the NBA level for a very long time, especially if he can get his 3 point shooting efficiency numbers closer to 40 than 35.
In a 2020 NBA re-draft, would Joe make it to the second round, or would some team scoop him up in the late-20s? Surely he wouldn’t drop down to 49th overall, but for teams looking for shooting, folding Joe into their bench portfolio would be pretty hard to pass up.
Isn’t that the sort of player you’d like to put around Simmons long-term, especially on a squad that isn’t going to fight tooth and nail for the first overall seed? On a team like the Kings, who want desperately to make it to the playoffs for the first time in a decade and a half but realistically understand their place in the loaded Western Conference, giving Joe some extended run may be just what the doctor ordered to unlock his potential as a legitimate NBA rotational sharpshooter.
And you know what? I’m all for it.
While it would stink to see Joe go in only his second year of professional action, as he’s still under contract through 2022-23 with a QO for 2023-24, if his addition in a hypothetical deal is enough to keep a player like Thybulle, Maxey, or 2021 first-round pick Jaden Springer in a Sixers uniform, I say let him go.
Why? Well, allow me to elaborate.
The biggest reason why Thybulle and Maxey are in such demand is that the duo each have incredibly high ceilings. Thybulle, as you know, is already one of the better defensive guards in the NBA and could make fans forget about Tony Allen by the time he hangs up his sneaks. And as for Maxey? Well, while I doubt he ever becomes a 20 points per game scorer, he is incredibly fast and an effective floor general who does everything pretty darn well.
Joe, while talented in his own way, possesses a talent that is incredibly common in the NBA, even if the Sixers never seem to have enough of it. Even if he caps out on his potential as a player, he’s never going to be better than, say, Buddy Hield and thus is relatively easy to replace if need be, maybe even with real Buddy Hield trade-willing.
Between you and me, I’d rather keep Thybulle 100 times out of 100.
From Tyrese Maxey to Matisse Thybulle, Isaiah Joe, Paul Reed, Jaden Springer, Charles Bassey, and yes, Isaiah Joe, the Philadelphia 76ers are absolutely loaded with young, ascended talent; a whole lot more than you’d expect from a team vying for the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference. Will some of those players probably have to leave to bring a superstar talent back to the City of Brotherly Love? Most definitely, but you know what they say, you have to spend money to make money, and thus, you have to send out talent to bring back talent. Fortunately, the development of talent like Joe gives Daryl Morey the optionality to maintain a viable bench even if they have to say goodbye to a few familiar faces to get it done.