It may not be the major move fans were hoping for, but the Sixers are making a roster change. As PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck reported, the Sixers are waiving Grant Riller and signing 6’2” guard Myles Powell to a two-way contract. The signing is expected to be official on Sunday. A team source has confirmed the news to Liberty Ballers.
Unfortunately Riller has had trouble with injuries in the NBA, and was first sidelined for an extended period with the Sixers after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee in October. Riller recently injured his shoulder in the G League, and Michael Scotto of HoopsHype has now reported that Riller is undergoing surgery and could be out for four to six months.
Grant Riller is having shoulder surgery, agent Scott Nichols told @HoopsHype. Riller is expected to miss 4-6 months. That timeframe and rising Covid cases across the NBA contributed to the 76ers waiving him from his two-way contract. Riller could return to Philly when healthy.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) December 19, 2021
With so many players entering health and safety protocols at the moment, having available two-way players is particularly valuable. It’s understandable that the Sixers made a move to ensure they have a bit of extra depth in place if need be.
Riller showed so much promise in college, showcasing impressive ability to create off the bounce and attack the rim. He clearly has talent and possesses the exact kind of skillset that made him an intriguing prospect for the Sixers and Blue Coats to bring in. Hopefully he can get healthy soon and find another shot in the NBA — either in Philly or elsewhere.
Powell played at Seton Hall from 2016 to 2020 and stood out mostly due to his scoring. Over his final three seasons once his minutes increased to at least 30 per game, he averaged 19.8 points and shot 35 percent from three on serious volume with 8.3 attempts a night. He earned All-Big East First Team honors in his final two seasons, and even won Big East Player of the Year in 2019-20. As a guard with some shiftiness off the dribble and plenty of comfort shooting both off movement and off the bounce from range, it’s easy to see why the Sixers are taking a shot on him.
He joined the Westchester Knicks in the G League last season, again putting his scoring talents on display. In 13 contests, Powell averaged 17.8 points and 3.8 assists and shot 44.6 percent from three on 6.4 attempts per game.
One drawback with Powell’s play in college was his efficiency. He only shot 42.7 percent from the floor over his final three seasons and made 52.2 percent of his two-pointers — after having a true shooting percentage of at least 58.6 in his second and third year, it dipped to just 52.4 in his final year.
He’s also more confident operating from beyond the arc, with more than half his shot attempts coming from deep in each of his final three seasons at Seton Hall. More reliable rim pressure and free throw attempts would be one way for him to raise his overall efficiency. But while Powell’s efficiency has dipped at times and his passing and defense may not be strengths of his, he clearly has skill as a scorer. Perhaps if his usage is reduced and he isn’t required to create so much off the bounce, he could increase his efficiency somewhat in the process.
Obviously you can’t expect a two-way player joining in the middle of the season to make an impact with the Sixers. But if Powell is able to help the Blue Coats, and potentially joins the Sixers on occasion if they’re short on players due to injuries and/or health and safety protocols at some point, then his scoring ability makes him an interesting player to monitor moving forward.