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Sixers sign second-year point guard Grant Riller to a two-way contract

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Many of you wanted him if Tyrese Maxey wasn’t available during the 2020 draft...now Riller is here too

Charlotte Hornets v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The 76ers continue to be active in fine-tuning their roster. Yesterday the team signed Joel Embiid to a supermax contract, adding another four years to his salary and keeping him home for the long haul.

With that massive move out of the way, the front office turned to address the bench. We learned that the 50th overall pick, the final stocking stuffer pick left to the organization by Sam Hinkie (sniffles), Filip Petrusev, would officially be playing overseas this coming season. (Insert never coming over jokes.) Next we got word that guard Rayjon Tucker, a two-way player last season, was being waived following the Summer League finale. That was a bit of a surprise until the frenzy of activity continued and we saw this:

Tucker is a flashy player and we wish him well. He looks like a freight train when he comes down the court on a break and attacks the cup. There’s a small part of me that hopes Tucker takes over Kerryon Johnson’s recently vacated spot at running back for the Eagles. He seems like he could play a lot of sports.

As for Riller, it’s a pretty exciting pick-up as far as final roster spots go. Recall, many Sixer fans were high on him during the 2020 NBA draft, at least in the event Tyrese Maxey was not available. Riller, who played his rookie year with Charlotte, appeared in seven games and dropped 18 total points. He hasn’t really gotten a chance to hoop at the NBA level yet.

But in college he was an exciting playmaker:

Ole “Margins Crusher” Morey doing what he does:

Our Paul Hudrick, writing at the time for NBCSP, had this to say back in June 2020:

“Riller is a scorer at all three levels. He has the audacity to pull up from anywhere, is lethal in the midrange and can finish at the basket.

He wasn’t an elite three-point shooter in college (35.6 percent on four attempts a game) and his release is a little funky. But his ability in the midrange and at the free throw line (81.8 percent the last two seasons) suggest that he could do better with more space at the next level. He also hit 41 percent on catch-and-shoot threes, per Synergy Sports. His step-back shot is pretty much unguarable.”

NBA Scout Ross Homan had this to say for Liberty Ballers:

“For me, the pick is Grant Riller. Yes, there’s a chance he’d slide to them early second but I don’t think it’s worth taking the risk to allow another team to select him between 21st and 34th. The Sixers have championship aspirations and talented players, but they need to swing on a self-creation guard that can be counted on in tough scenarios, when needed. Riller’s ability to get to the rim and finish, as well as create space in off-the-dribble pull-up attempts, is something Philly desperately needs.”

Our own draft expert Dan Olinger called Riller one of the best creators in the 2020 draft:

“His handles and scoring moves are as good as anyone in this class, and he averaged 21.9 points per game each of the last two years. The Cougars’ primary offense always involved Riller, as they liked to either isolate him at the top of the key or set him high ball screens and let him cook from there.

He’s a violent downhill finisher, conjuring up memories of Ja Morant with the way he combines in-and-out and behind-the-back moves with blazing speed and change of pace to put pressure on the rim.”

For those of you who are still sick that Sharife Cooper went just two spots ahead of Petrusev in the draft, Riller might offer a similar skillset- as that bench guard who can simply step in and make things happen with the rock in his hands. Like Cooper, Riller also was a projected late first- early second round pick who wound up sliding towards the end of the draft.

The big question mark this leaves regards the 53rd pick that the Sixers bought with cash and used to select a big man out of Western Kentucky, Charles Bassey. Some believed he would wind up on the two-way deal Riller just received.

At this rate, there will be 9 more transactions that take place before I publish this post. The analyses included above took Ben Simmons into consideration when evaluating Riller. As it stands now, I think it’s a terrific value signing whether Simmons is on the team (which is sounding increasingly likely by the day) or not. He’s a really fun guard to watch with a ton of ball skills packed into a slight 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame. But he plays bigger than that. In 11 games for the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornets’ G League squad, the 56th overall pick in 2020 dropped 13.1 points, 3.5 dimes, and shot over 46% from three.