Philadelphia 76ers: Don’t let a missed dunk cloud Paul Reed’s game

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Paul Reed hasn’t taken the court for the Philadelphia 76ers since January 17th.

Despite remaining relatively healthy so far this season, with only an early January stint on the COVID list holding him out of games, Reed has been an afterthought in Doc Rivers’ rotation for much of the season, with his only prolonged appearance coming in November.

When actually afforded an opportunity to play prolonged minutes, Reed has turned in some solid performances, like his defensive efforts against Giannis Antetokounmpo versus the Milwaukee Bucks and his 10 point performances in Chicago. But unfortunately, it seemed like no matter how well Reed played on the defensive end of the court or how… encouraging his offensive efforts were in any given game, he always seemed to find his way back onto the bench in favor of the one-two punch of Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond.

But now? With Doc Rivers’ long-time family friend “The Big Penguin” a member of the Brooklyn Nets and Paul Millsap apparently walking down the side of I-95 on his way to the Walt Whitman bridge, Paul Reed was afforded a chance to shine as Joel Embiid’s primary backup in the Philadelphia 76ers’ win over the OKC Thunder. And the results? Well… let’s talk about it.

One bad shot shouldn’t cloud Paul Reed’s game with the Philadelphia 76ers.

It came at the 8:46 mark of the second quarter. Paul Reed broke up the inbounds pass initially intended for Darius Bazley and burst down the court in the transition on the way for what looked like an easy, breezy, beautiful dunk.

Now, even in the post-Ben Simmons era, this play has become a fixture of the Philadelphia 76ers’ offense, as noted pickpocket Matisse Thybulle has developed a bit of a reputation for his full court dunks, but if Reed could become a master of the steal-to-dunk transition, it could go a long way in establishing his offense, especially since he’s been averaging 2.3 steals per game in the Per 36 metric.

… but then, it happened. Reed collected the ball, made an awkward move, and just sort of… missed. The ball sort of stuck between the hoop and the backboard and fell back to earth, or should I say the court, alongside Bazley, who finished out the play looking up at the lights.

Needless to say, this play made the rounds on social media and generated more than a few laughs from folks on NBA Twitter, and rightly so. Reed’s play was goofy, and after spending most of the last month in Delaware, he clearly tried a bit too hard to make an impression on the fans, coaches, and James Harden stans but unfortunately, that particular play didn’t go as planned.

Fortunately for Reed, the rest of his 13 minutes of action were pretty darn good and showcased what he could do if allowed to split backup minutes behind Joel Embiid alongside Charles Bassey and/or Paul Millsap, who Doc Rivers plans to play at the five.

On the defensive end of the court, Reed looked like a modern-day small-ball five. He switched on screens, weaved through traffic, and even contributed on the boards, where he picked up three defensives and four offensive rebounds. Granted, we didn’t get to see Reed attempt a 3, a shot he’s been hitting in Delaware but not versus NBA competition, but in a true stroke of poetic justice, the pride of DePaul and the Paul who knows BBall was able to throw down another dunk, only this time he connected for two of his six points.

If Reed can keep playing like he did versus Oklahoma City, something tells me James Harden may explicitly call for 44 when he wants to play fast, loose, and switch-y.

Next. Keep an eye on Gary Harris and Robin Lopez. dark

Will Paul Reed ever develop the outside shot or rim-protecting abilities to become a full-time fixture of the Philadelphia 76ers’ rotation? Only time will tell, but even now, with his game still a bit of a work in progress, Reed can contribute to the team’s on-court product, as he can switch one-through-five in small-ball lineups as a reserve center and hold things down as a positional defender playing alongside Joel Embiid from the four spot. Even when Paul Millsap finally arrives following his Forrest Gump-esque journey from Brooklyn to South Philadelphia, the upside, efforts, and athleticism of Reed are unique on the Sixers’ roster and thus deserve to be utilized in the same way the Brooklyn Nets used Alize Johnson or how the Memphis Grizzlies use Brandon Clark.