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Diving deep into the mud with Paul Reed

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The Sixers seem to have found a diamond in the rough with Paul Reed.

Philadelphia 76ers v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

When the Sixers first drafted Paul Reed 58th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, it was met with a general reaction of simply not knowing much about his play. He wasn’t a big name on many draft boards, commonly being found in the mid to late second round (if listed at all). Reed was a very under-the-radar prospect heading into the draft, after putting up 3 seasons with the DePaul Blue Demons.

Fast forward to now, people understand a lot more of what Paul Reed can really do on the basketball court. While his 55 minutes of playing time at the NBA level offer us a minuscule glimpse, we’ve seen him flat out dominate at the G-League level with the Delaware Blue Coats.

Paul Reed has put together an impressive case through 15 G-League games; which is the complete regular season for this year. He not only has a chance to win the G-League’s rookie of the year award, he has a strong case for MVP.

Paul Reed has been a joy to watch on both ends while leading the Blue Coats to their first playoff berth in franchise history at a record of 10-5. He’s filled up the stat sheet across the board while contributing to a winning team.

You can’t help but be impressed while looking at Paul Reed’s stats in the G-League Bubble. He’s contributed on every major stat and then some. Through 15 games he’s averaged: 31.5 minutes per game, 22.3 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, 2.3 assists per game, 1.9 steals per game, and 1.8 blocks per game. Not only is Paul Reed filling up the stat sheet, he’s doing so on incredible efficiency: averaging an impressive 58.8 field goal percentage, 44.4 three point percentage, and a 65.9 true shooting percentage.

One of the most impressive areas of Reed’s play would be his shooting. He’s looking comfortable and confident in taking midrange or three point jumpshots. While the G-League defense is certainly a tier below the NBA’s, his average of over 44% from three is very promising. Not only has he shot efficiently, but he’s averaged an impressive percentage on a decent sample, averaging over 3.6 attempts from beyond the arc per game.

Will his unorthodox form translate to the NBA as well as it has in the G-League? I do have some concerns. It’s a longer release than most and NBA defenses could close out on him quickly. However, Reed’s game isn’t just shooting jumpers. He’ll only be called upon to use it in a NBA setting when he’s wide open for a catch shoot or pick and pop. In limited uses, I’m optimistic about Reed’s jumper.

In addition to Reed’s three point shooting as an area of growth and promise, there’s been many other areas where he’s excelled. Defense was Reed’s calling card coming out of DePaul: he was everywhere on defense, could handle his own on switches, and wreak havoc on the boards. The G-League has proven no different for Reed as he’s been one of the best defenders in the entire league.

Reed has an impressive defensive skill set that can range from blocking shots around the rim to successfully switching onto quicker guards with ease. He plays with an incredibly high motor and never gives up on plays.

Reed has tremendous defensive instincts that could be huge for the Sixers in the coming future. However, his defensive discipline will need to be improved before getting consistent NBA playing time. He got into some foul trouble during the G-League regular season: averaging a team-high of over 4 fouls per game. But if Reed can play in control, he has all of the physical and intangible skills to become a great switchable NBA defender.

The Delaware Blue Coats used Reed almost exclusively as a center in the G-League Bubble — a notable trend. We’ve seen the Sixers and Blue Coats often mirror each other in terms of systems implementation to ease to transition for players between teams. Reed played both the power forward and center position in college, but it’s very possible that the Sixers see him as a center going forward. His fit alongside Ben Simmons would be almost seemless, as Reed is capable of hitting perimeter shots and running the floor in transition.

The last area I’ll touch on will be in regards to Reed’s scoring around the rim, which is quite impressive. Reed has shown flashes of impressive foot work and acitivty around the rim. As stated before, Reed plays with a very high motor which he uses to his advantage. Reed would often be found putting back shot attempts from himself or teammates. Ranging from a spin-move to euro-steps, Reed has a lot of tricks within his bag.

Paul Reed has all of the makings to be a quality player at the NBA level. Coming into this season he was viewed as a project player who possessed a lot of skills but was in need of some polishing and development. I think it’s safe to say that Reed is ahead of schedule in terms of his development and we may be seeing him sooner rather than later if he can maintain this type of play. The Sixers found a legitimate prospect at the end of the 2020 draft in Reed.

While everyone is campaigning for Joel Embiid to win MVP, we should also be doing the same for Paul Reed at the G-League level. His play on both ends of the court has shown the basketball world that he belongs and may be contributing to the team quicker than anticipated. It may be just time for Paul Reed to get out of the mud.