While no one would classify the Philadelphia 76ers having one-third of their team on the COVID-19 list as a good thing, if you’re looking for silver linings, young players getting increased playing time to develop would certainly be one of them. The reduced roster has allowed Tyrese Maxey to impress in a larger role, Shake Milton to log more time with the ball in his hands, and Georges Niang to flex additional parts of his game (while literally flexing to the crowd). Another player who has benefited from additional playing time is fan favorite Paul Reed.
The reigning G League MVP played no more than nine minutes in any of the first five games of the season. However, with injuries and Health and Safety Protocols decimating the roster in November, Reed has averaged over 16 minutes per game across his past four contests, including a season-high 24 minutes while starting Tuesday night’s 118-109 loss to Milwaukee.
Although Reed averaged over 22 points per game in last season’s G League, it was his defense Tuesday night that really opened some eyes, particularly against reigning NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis shot just 5-of-12 with Reed guarding him, per NBA.com tracking. BBall Paul’s work on that end of the floor even garnered a graphic on the TNT broadcast, and Reggie Miller had to actually learn his name after calling him “Patrick” Reed a couple times.
Reed’s raw skills and physical attributes have always been tantalizing for Sixers fans. He’s 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and the mobility to hang with quicker players in space. That overall package means he’s one of the few guys who could absorb the shoulder from Giannis here, stay with him down the lane, and rise up for the block.
Paul Reed had words for Giannis after he blocked his shot pic.twitter.com/rVxEXagg9j— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 10, 2021
I like to imagine Reed told Giannis, “the only way you’re sitting down on this court again is if I put you there.”
Following the game Tuesday, Doc Rivers was specifically asked about Reed’s defense on Giannis, and had this to say:
“I thought overall good. I thought in the second half he kept playing him on his side and playing Giannis [Antetokounmpo] on his side is like water, he just went through him, and that’s what we were talking about, he kept doing it and he didn’t do that as much in the first half. You’ve got to play Giannis square and make him go to your chest, if he gets you on the side it’s over and Giannis sees the moment, he did that much in the second half.”
Teammate Georges Niang also put forth kind words regarding the hard work Reed puts in:
“He’s great. He blocks shots. That kid works so dang hard. I remember when I first got here I was like, ‘Is this dude really always in the gym, or is this just like a front for the first couple days of training camp?’ I’ll come back and shoot every once in a while and there Paul Reed will be, coming in right after me. But he works so hard, so credit to him. He has good size to guard guys and he has good instincts for the ball. The kid is walking into rebounds, blocking shots. He does a great job. He’s helped us win a bunch of games this year already.”
BBall Paul still has areas of his game where he can improve. He needs to be a more disciplined defender at times. His ability to space the floor offensively is still mostly theoretical (Reed has yet to hit a 3 in an NBA game). But one thing we know about Reed: he’s willing to put in the work. So it’s not crazy to think that down the road, the Sixers could have a guy who crashes the offensive glass like a madman, can hit the open jumper, and guards well with the ability to switch seamlessly across multiple positions. Reed has played less than 300 NBA minutes, and gave as well as he took against the two-time NBA MVP who you could arguably say is the best player in the world right now. If nothing else, these opportunities will only accelerate Reed’s development.
As fellow thriving youngster Tyrese Maxey put it after the game, although the Sixers might not be winning all of these shorthanded games right now, the competitive play they’re exhibiting will benefit the team down the road:
“Yeah, especially when you get guys minutes that builds their confidence. When you get game reps. Paul Reed today. I think he had a play on Giannis [Antetokounmpo] that I thought was spectacular. That I hadn’t seen a lot of guys make in this league. I saw Giannis come downhill and Paul Reed rolls up and blocks it off the glass. And I was playing in the game, but at the time I felt like a fan. I was in awe. I was like “aw man”… Paul Reed literally just, he was competitive tonight. Stuff like that, that’s what carries on. You remember games like this when you have Tobias [Harris] and Joel [Embiid] and Matisse [Thybulle] and Isaiah [Joe], guys out. And Seth Curry and guys out. And you’re still able to try and find success. No moral victories, we wanted to win the game, but it’s good to see guys play well.”
BBall Paul and the Good Vibes Sixers forever.