Sunday, January 23 2022

One of the good things about the NBA preseason is the increased on-court opportunity it affords to rotation players to show that they may warrant added regular season playing time. For the Philadelphia 76ers, second-year forward Isaiah Joe has capitalized on that opportunity so far this preseason. The Sixers can always use added floor-spacing around star center Joel Embiid, and Joe has provided that — and more. 

Through three games, Joe has averaged a team-leading 17.7 points per performance in the preseason, while shooting a scorching 64 percent from the floor and 63 percent from long range. His accuracy from long range has been especially impressive given that he’s attempted over six 3s per game. In the process, Joe has demonstrated an ability to knock down shots from deep on pull-up opportunities, like this: 

With a lightning-quick release, Joe has also shown a knack for connecting on catch-and-shoot opportunities: 

It hasn’t been just shooting either. Joe has additionally shown a willingness to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket. Sometimes that has resulted in good looks for him, like it did here against the Nets

Other times, Joe’s willingness to drive and make the right read has resulted in open opportunities at the rim for his teammates, as it did for Andre Drummond on this play:  

Joe has also demonstrated some defensive development as he’s averaged 2.3 steals per performance. At 6-foot-4 he has the size to be a solid perimeter defender, as long as he continues to grow on that end of the floor. Joe’s promising play hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates. On the contrary, other Sixers players — like Embiid and Tobias Harris — have expressed optimism regarding what Joe could potentially bring to the team moving forward. 

“Isaiah is someone that I really think he has a chance,” Embiid said. “You got someone that can handle the ball, can shoot the ball, can defend. I think he’s gonna be in the league for a long time. He’s gonna be really good so that’s something I’m excited about.”

“He’s doing a great job,” Harris added about Joe. “He’s very humble with the way that he works. He comes in every day. He gets up probably the most shots out of anybody on the team, but I think if you asked anybody about Isaiah, there aren’t enough positive things to say. He just goes out there and plays his game sound, solid as ever, offensively and defensively, as you’re seeing.”  

The Sixers are a deep team, especially on the perimeter where they have ample contributors like Harris, Danny Green, Seth Curry, Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle. However, with the way that he’s played in the preseason, Joe has made a real case for himself when it comes to earning a spot in the regular-season rotation. 

It’s often difficult for a rookie or second-year player to crack the rotation of a contending team that already has a well-established roster like the Sixers do, so it will be interesting to see how much on-court opportunity Joe is afforded. Such opportunity might be limited at first, but if he can capitalize on the time he gets, perhaps Joe could be a real piece of Philadelphia’s rotation by the time the postseason rolls around.   



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