The Next Step: Paul Reed
Thursday’s NBA Draft is on the minds of all basketball fans. The Sixers have a couple key cogs from the 2020 NBA Draft that could become critical pieces for the upcoming 2021-22 season. One of them in particular will continue his quest to get “out of the mud” and crack Doc Rovers’ nightly rotation as the backup five. That man, of course, is Paul Reed, better known as Bball Paul.
Let’s take a look at the best/worst case scenarios for Bball Paul next season:
Reed claims the backup five role, fills the void left by Dwight and then some:
For someone taken at the tail end of the 2020 NBA draft and not being a household name, Reed quickly arrived onto the scene and into the hearts of many Sixers fans with his MVP season in the G-League Bubble. Reed averaged 22.3 PTS, 11.8 REB per game while leading the Blue Coats to their first ever playoff berth, falling just short of a G-League championship.
Reed also showed some flashes during his 26 games played with the big league club, including a career high 17 PTS & 12 REBs vs. the Magic. In spite of a relatively successful experiment with Dwight Howard as Embiid’s backup for most of the 2020-2021 campaign, everybody aside from maybe Doc Rivers saw how unplayable he was in the Atlanta series. It seems the only way to move Dwight out of the rotation, would be for Morey to elect not to bring him back. Coupling that with Mike Scott inevitably on his way out the door (unless we end up with a Zach Ertz situation), minutes have suddenly become available for Reed.
The undeniable need for the Sixers is a capable stretch five playing behind Joel Embiid, and with a full slate of off-season workouts, summer league play and fall training camp, the opportunity is for the taking for Reed to earn himself some meaningful rotation minutes during the upcoming season. No Liberty Line Locks of the year here, but I can sniff a Paul Reed slam over Al Horford at the WFC next season.
Bball Paul needs more G-League ball:
There’s also a very real scenario where expecting the 6’9, 58th overall pick to assimilate himself into the backup center role and netting 16 to 20 minutes per game is just too unrealistic. Even though his performance in the bubble started chatter that claimed him as the “steal of the draft” and not so much just “frosty freeze out guy”, Reed may still may not be in a spot where he can be a key component to a championship level team. The Sixers will have their eyes on some MLE options this off-season as well as some Trade Exception possibilities thanks to the Al Horford trade last off-season to add depth to the front court but with perhaps another half season of G-League play could be all the warmup Reed needs to then become a key piece to another Sixers playoff run.
To be able to help this team next year, Reed will need to continue to work on his three point shot so that in a world where Ben Simmons is still on the roster, he can help stretch the floor. This is something he certainly showed flashes of while in the G-League, shooting 44% from three and averaging 3.6 attempts per game during the regular season. There is no doubt that Reed is willing to put in the work, as Doc had expressed that Reed along with Maxey were two of the hardest workers he’s ever had…time will tell if the extra work in the lab will pay dividends for the 2021-2022 Sixers team.
Stuck in the Mud, need to find a way out:
There is a ton to love about Reed and what his huge upside could bring to this roster for years to come, However, as previously mentioned his outside jumper is something he will need to continue to work on, along with a noticeable hitch in his form that could impact his ability to get his shot off at the next level. Although I don’t believe we have a re-construction project on our hands here, he will need to show the ability to consistently get off his shot on pick and pops and over closing out NBA defenders to be an effective rotation player. Seeing a season where Reed regresses does not seem likely given his incredible work ethic and earned accolades in a short body of work…but is worth noting as the Sixers organization is currently at the mercy of the cap/luxury tax and would love to continue to see Reed stay “out of the mud.”