Philadelphia 76ers: Losing Isaiah Joe is a Summer League bummer

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Has any member of the Philadelphia 76ers had a better Summer League showing than Isaiah Joe?

Sure, there’s Tyrese Maxey, who came, saw, and kicked some Summer League behind before jetting off to Texas for a pre-approved camp for the kids, but honestly, is anyone really all that surprised that he showed out against a collection of 20-year-olds plus Michael Beasley and Kenneth Faried? I mean, we are talking about a player who dropped 39 in his 10th professional game and recorded four double-digit point games in the playoffs.

No, for my money, Joe has been the guy more so than Filip Petrusev, Jaden Springer, and even Paul Reed because of the wrinkles he’s folded into his game; wrinkles you can read about here.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to see Joe put a cherry on top of his exemplary summer, as the second-year shooting guard suffered a sprained MCL in Game 4 and will be out for the foreseeable future as a result.

Can the Philadelphia 76ers just have one summer sans injury?

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In the grand scheme of things, whether or not Isaiah Joe was able to play in the Philadelphia 76ers’ final summer league game of the season is a rather moot point. The Sixers aren’t competing for a Summer League championship, and even if they were, it would be incredibly foolish to trot out an injured player in a meaningless exhibition game.

But if Joe’s injury issues linger on into training camp or worse, it’ll effectively stunt the development of one of the more intriguing players on the Sixers’ roster.

What, don’t believe me? Well, think about it this way.

In 2020-21, Matisse Thybulle‘s summer was largely spent rehabbing from an ankle injury. While said injury didn’t ultimately impact his, well, impact on the regular season, as Thybulle finished out the regular season with a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive second team, it did start his season off on the wrong ankle foot and led some to wonder if the former Washington Husky was a fit in Doc Rivers‘ system.

Considering the Sixers’ lack of volume 3 point shooters on a roster desperate for said players, incorporating Joe into a training camp rotation alongside Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons – maybe – and the $196 million man, Joel Embiid might have been enough to catch the eye of Rivers and secure a spot coming off the bench with regularity.

Who knows, maybe Joe’s new offensive wrinkles, when coupled with his filled-out frame, could have been enough to push the likes of Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz for playing time at the two behind Seth Curry. I mean, probably not, as Rivers is a certified fan of giving minutes to older players over young ones, but if Joe could translate his preseason shooting numbers onto an NBA court – where he knocked down 37.5 percent of his 10.5(!) 3 point attempts per game – even Glenn Rivers wouldn’t be able to keep him off the court.

But now, with Joe’s future uncertain, we may have to see the season start out with roughly the same wing rotation as last season, with minutes for a player like Joe only coming via injury or serious struggles from a player like Milton.

As Thybulle proved only one season ago, the cream will always rise to the top, but opportunity without availability isn’t an opportunity at all.

Next. Joel Embiid just signed the richest contract in Philadelphia 76ers history. dark

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to go through a summer as a sports fan without a single major injury? Like, would you just… enjoy the summer without the haunting weight of a season potentially gone because of a bad pull-up or a non-contact injury? Hmm… it must be nice. So while losing Isaiah Joe for a single Summer League game isn’t the worst-case scenario compared to some of the Philadelphia 76ers’ previous season-enders of yesterseason, it sure would have been nice to see how the team’s resident double-digit 3 point shooter would have looked playing alongside his All-Star-caliber teammates in his second professional season. *sigh* I guess there’s always 2022.