Philadelphia 76ers: How would another coach use Isaiah Joe?

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /

According to Kyle Neubeck of the PhillyVoice, this was a very important summer for 2020 Philadelphia 76ers second-round pick Isaiah Joe.

If he succeeded, great; Joe will have his contract guaranteed on opening night, according to Spotrac, and he’ll be a fixture of the bench until proven otherwise. And if not? Well, the Sixers could release Joe without owing him another dime or trade him to another team for a similarly valued performer.

Fortunately for Joe, it looks like the former part has been decided in the best possible way; Joe has looked like a man among boys in the Summer League and has been taking and making 3s like an ideal fit next to Joel Embiid and James Harden. Joe balled out, proved his worth, and will soon head into the training camp with a roster spot more or less locked, but that doesn’t guarantee him anything but a paycheck.

No, for Joe to take a step forward and actually achieve some longevity in the association as more than a deep bench prospect, he needs to actually crack Doc Rivers’ rotation and earn that elusive second contract.

But hey, just for a moment, let’s divorce Doc from this situation, shall we? Let’s imagine Isaiah Joe is still a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, but the team is simply looking to deploy the Arkansas product in the best position to succeed. What would that look like? Well, let’s try to find out.

Isaiah Joe can be a successful player for the Philadelphia 76ers.

What is Isaiah Joe good at? Volume 3-point shooting. While Joe will probably never hit 44 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc in any given season, he’s the kind of player who could theoretically outscore a more efficient shooter based on the number of shots he puts up.

Now normally, bench players aren’t attempting double-digit shots per game, let alone double-digit 3s per game, but in college, Joe did just that, attempting 275 3s in just 26 games, and that is absolutely where he is the most comfortable as a player.

Fortunately, when a team has a dominant center like Joel Embiid, who generates double teams like a proper Philly cheesesteak generates grease, surrounding him with performers who are comfortable bombing tres without taking a step is a sound, time-honored strategy for success. Remove any hierarchy, contractual stipulation, or favoritism towards older players, and theoretically, a coach should want to play Joe next to Embiid, especially if he can be just an average defensive contributor, which, according to FiveThirtyEight, he was last season.

Alright, so that’s that, right? Joe can just play with Embiid and, considering how the rest of the team is composed, that’s good for a dozen or so minutes per game? Well yes, that could be a role for Joe, but it doesn’t have to be the only role he can fill.

Why? Well, because Joe is a good fit next to James Harden too.

In Houston, Daryl Morey’s squads found great success by placing volume shooters like Ben McLemore around Harden to capitalize on open looks generated by his drives, his ISO game, and by the double-teams he would draw on the pick-and-roll. Though Joe doesn’t have McLemore’s draft pedigree, he’s probably a better shooter and could similarly excel in a role where he parks it in the corner, moves himself open if need be, but ultimately bombs the ball when it comes his way like a hot potato.

Really, the only member of the Sixers’ Big 3 that Joe doesn’t perfectly fit with is Tyrese Maxey, as the soon-to-be third-year guard is a pretty bad defender and needs to be paired up with a guard like De’Anthony Melton if Harden is off the court. Still, considering Maxey only plays 32ish minutes per game, that leaves 16-ish minutes for Joe to operate if need be, which is a decent enough role that could translate to the playoffs assuming Maxey isn’t going to 40 minutes per game.

All things considered, not too shabby at all.

Next. Focus on Tyrese Maxey’s defense, Sam Cassell. dark

For another team, securing a player like Isaiah Joe in the second round would be looked at like an absolute blessing. Fans would love his fearlessness as a shooter, his teammates would embrace his attitude, and his coach would look for opportunities to get him on the court, instead of reasons to keep him off of it. The Philadelphia 76ers would be wise to embrace that philosophy.