Philadelphia 76ers: All aboard the Paul Reed hype train

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Ah, Saturday, September 25th, 2021; a totally uneventful day in the history of the Philadelphia 76ers.

No hit pieces were published about a player’s love of the game, no head coach compared his star player to the supporters of a former president, and no one rejected a jet full of teammates destined for the Golden State for a hands-on, pre-training camp meeting.

No, it was a beautiful day in the Sixers’ neighborhood and that, my friends, is a lovely thing.

So on this, September 26th, what better way to celebrate such a beautiful day in the Philadelphia 76ers’ universe than to get hyped up on one of their breakout stars, Paul Reed, as he heads into his sophomore season? Makes sense to me.

The Philadelphia 76ers could use a breakout year from Paul Reed.

Paul Reed’s rookie season in the NBA was anything but probable.

The 58th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Reed went from a two-way contract to G-League MVP in a matter of months, all the while leading the Blue Coats to the championship game for their first time in franchise history.

Just think about that for a second; of the last five players selected with the 58th overall pick in the NBA Draft, two haven’t played a second in the NBA -including Philadelphia 76ers draftee J.P. Tokoto – while Thomas Welsh has been out of the league since 2019. The only two players still kicking it at the NBA level – excluding 2021 58th overall pick Jericho Sims, who is currently on a two-way contract with the New York Knicks – are Miye Oni, who is on the final year of his rookie contract with the Utah Jazz, and Abdel Nader, who is on his third team in four years.

Does winning the G-League MVP award fast-track a player to NBA success? No, as only one of the last 10 award winners are signed to NBA contracts today, but there are a slew of players who recorded 20-plus points in developmental who went on to have very nice NBA careers; just ask Christian Wood, Trey Burke, and Quinn Cook.

Had Reed thrown up a bunch of meaningless stats as a paint-only scorer, maybe one could look at his performances as an aberration, but fortunately, that wasn’t the case. No, because the Sixers and the Blue Coats run basically the same system, Reed was able to operate in a very replicable way to how he would on the big club, if only Doc Rivers would give him a meaningful shot.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that happens. Let’s say Rivers goes all-in on getting “out the mud” with everyone’s favorite BBaller and gives him a legitimate opportunity to earn rotational frontcourt minutes alongside Utah Jazz transplant Georges Niang. What, realistically, could we expect from Reed?

A whole lot of fun, that’s for sure.

While some – including Rivers – will quibble that the 6-foot-9, 210 pound DePaul product is too small to play the five at the NBA level, Reed was used all over the Blue Coats’ lineups last season and found ways to contribute at both ends of the court. He shot 58.8 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from beyond the arc – on 3.6 attempts no less – and was able to haul in an average of 11.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game on his way to 22.3 points per game.

Really, the only thing Reed didn’t do with frequency was get to the line, but when he did, he cleared a respectable 78.9 percent of the balls, which isn’t horrible but could be much, much worse.

You see, Reed is a utility player; a glue guy, if you will. He can turn an offensive rebound into a massive dunk, facilitate offense with unfortunately uncounted hockey assists, and even serve as an offensive fulcrum who can set screens or take it himself, depending on what the defense gives him. When Embiid is off the court, and the Sixers need some energy, Reed could be a go-to guy paired up with anyone from Tyrese Maxey to Shake Milton, or even Jalen Springer, if he happens to pick up some garbage time regular season minutes.

And hey, if the Sixers want to go fast and capitalize on an advantageous matchup, maybe you do go super-small with Reed at the five, Matisse Thybulle at the four, and a trio of guards spaced out one-through-three. Even if it’s not an every-game occurrence, such a look could be a very nice trick to keep up one’s sleeve.

Next. Darius Garland could swing a trade for Ben Simmons. dark

On the Memphis Grizzlies, Paul Reed would be at worst a reliable rotational player and at best a star-in-the-making like their 2020 second-round pick Xavier Tillman. He’d average a little less than 20 minutes of action a night, swing between the four and the five, and be lauded for the unique traits he brings to the table, not held off the court for what he can’t conceivably do. If the Philadelphia 76ers are wise, they’d follow in Taylor Jenkins’ footsteps and give him a spot to sink or swim versus NBA competition. Between you and me, I think some frontcourt minutes may open up in the not too distant future.