Here in the doldrums of the offseason, it’s only a matter of time until we hear yet another version of the following report: “James Harden would like to join Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in L.A. but the Clippers are not eager to meet Daryl Morey’s asking price yet!”
In our LB Slack channel, a few of us are legitimately worried about Erin Grugan’s sanity if she hears this “update” recycled again.
But luckily, the Sixers newly-minted reserve big, Paul Reed, gave us some actual Sixers basketball to talk about! Whaaaat?
According to Ky Carlin of SixersWire, Reed, who recently signed a three-year, $23M deal to remain in Philadelphia (he actually signed with the Utah Jazz, but the Sixers possessing matching rights, retained him) opened up about a recent conversation he had with new head coach Nick Nurse.
“I’ve talked to [coach Nurse] plenty of times and it’s always been kind of the same kind of idea. He talked about molding me into a Pascal Siakam-type player. Somebody who can kind of do it all. Shoot the ball, drive, pass, but right it’s all about focusing on my shot mechanics. That’s the start. That’s where it starts at.”
It’s certainly a lofty comparison, but you absolutely love to hear it.
You can see some of Reed’s new form work in the clip below:
Coach Nurse, who once upon a time set the career and single-season three-point percentage records (46.8 and 49.7) at the University of Northern Iowa, admits he places a lot of emphasis on helping his players learn to improve their shooting mechanics.
“If you want to stay in basketball, devote yourself to shooting. If you’re already a good shooter, become a better one. It’s the one skill in the game that nearly anyone can get better at,” Nurse writes in his book Rapture.
So, why wasn’t he here like five years ago again?
“B-Ball” may already have the clutch gene too:
Paul Reed hit 4 straight clutch free throws in game 1 against the Celtics. PLEASE bring this man back! pic.twitter.com/3oWgZcBYQH— Aidan LaPorta (@aidanlaporta69) July 9, 2023
Based on his comments, it sounds like Reed is already benefitting from this area of focus.
When he was a college prospect at New Mexico State, Siakam shot just 3-of-15 from distance. Even at the shorter collegiate distance, that’s only a 17.6 percent mark. The Cameroonian forward shot just 71 percent from the line.
But in Toronto as a pro, Spicy P has shot better than 34 percent from distance four times during his seven-year, two-time All-NBA career. He’s a career 77.4 percent free throw shooter, shooting 77 percent or better from the stripe four times since 2017. He’s no Splash Brother, but given his athleticism, length, his ability to slash, post up, crash the glass,
get away with elbows and defend, his shooting range has made him just dangerous enough to send defenses (including the Sixers’) scrambling over the years.
Philadelphia matching Reed’s contract in the $8M annual range would seem to imply that they think there’s at least a chance he can play alongside Joel Embiid. If their only goal was to spell Joel for eight playoff minutes per game, they might have been content to just roll with Mo Bamba and Montrezl Harrell as reserve bigs.
(Heck, in a world where P.J. Tucker is traded along with James Harden, perhaps Reed could see an even bigger role too, who knows?)
So these types of comments from Reed make it sound as if Nurse is thinking big. As we learned during the ugly 2019-2020 season, spacing around Embiid is always a key. So Reed’s ability to see expanded minutes will depend on him draining wide-open shots and attacking closeouts (ideally) once defenses begin to worry about him.
Reed has only made 3-of-20 three point attempts in his pro career. He has shot 15 percent from downtown and 65.8 percent from the stripe. But he drained over 44 percent from distance in his G League stints.
B-Ball, still only 24 years old, has earned the reputation as one of the team’s hardest workers. His personal mantra is “Out the Mud” and it fits. Last offseason, Doc Rivers named Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle and Reed as the hardest workers among his group. It sounds as if B-Ball is looking to earn that designation from Nurse as well.
Carlin continued, quoting Reed:
“Whenever I’m in Philly, the whole coaching staff, we’re all on the same page about what I need to do to get better. So every day I come in the gym, we’re all focusing on the small details in my shot....I’m feeling more confident. More confident every day. Just about changing my shot mechanics a little bit. That’s all they’ve been focusing on and I’m getting more and more comfortable every day.”
It also sounds as if Reed is bursting with confidence, with his future now more secure:
“I’m super excited. I feel like this is gonna be a breakout year for me. I feel like last year, I started figuring things out towards the end, and coming into this season, I already have things figured out so I feel like it’s gonna go a lot smoother.”
But just as Jazz and Sixers fans were in the dark for a weekend about what Philadelphia might do regarding that contract offer, it sounds as if Reed was hanging on the edge of his seat as well:
“I didn’t know what was gonna happen to be honest. I was a restricted free agent so they had an opportunity to match. Then I seen they signed Trez (Montrezl Harrell) and (Mo) Bamba, my agent was like, it’s probably not likely that they match, but when they matched, I was real surprised.”
Many of us are thrilled he’s returning. Let’s be honest, this organization has allowed too many young, talented players to simply walk out of their doors over the years. But Nurse’s focus on shooting form, coupled with Reed’s dedication to offseason effort, is certainly a recipe for more success, beyond just backing up an MVP.
Whether he can develop into a Pascal Siakam-type role is yet to be seen, but that certainly wouldn’t hurt the team’s championship trajectory. See that? Some non-James Harden news. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?