Playing for a title contender can be a tough gig for a young player; something the Philadelphia 76ers‘ Isaiah Joe has experienced firsthand. Coming into the NBA as a late second-round pick, the 22-year-old spent the majority of his rookie campaign watching from the sidelines while older players won games.
When he was forced into action, though, Joe made the most of his opportunity and got a lot of Sixers fans excited about his future in the process. Over a five-game stretch in January — when COVID-19 had shorthanded the Sixers — the Arkansas product put up 12.4 points in 28.9 minutes per contest and shot 43.6% from three.
Joe has been showing out again this preseason, connecting on 64% of his shots from the floor and 63.2% from three-point range. But if you ask Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey, he’ll tell you this is business as usual for Joe.
“Not surprised at all… This dude really does not miss,” Maxey said of his teammate’s recent effort, via the Sixers’ Lauren Rosen. “It’s great to see him succeed like that… I love seeing him at the games, but in practice, when I have to guard him, it’s not fun.”
Joe is proving that he has something to offer at the NBA level. Alas, the future fans have been getting hyped about may have to wait a little longer now with Ben Simmons suddenly returning to Philly.
Simmons’ Return Could Have Ripple Effect in Sixers’ Backcourt
With Simmons’ own future in Philly looking more or less nonexistent in recent weeks, the team’s starting point guard position had been a hot topic throughout the preseason. And Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton both made a strong case to fill in for the three-time All-Star.
Further down Doc Rivers’ depth chart, opportunities appeared to be opening up for other members of the team’s backcourt group, too, and Joe’s strong preseason seemingly had him slated for a big-time uptick in minutes this season.
Simmons’ surprising appearance at Wells Fargo Center during the Sixers’ latest exhibition game probably changes that, though.
Regardless of whether his future lies in Philly or elsewhere, the best thing for both parties in the Simmons-Sixers debacle is having him on the court. He may want out but his participation can help the Sixers win games in the meantime, while also boosting his own trade value.
If Simmons does return to the court, there’s going to be a big-time ripple effect. Maxey, Milton and Joe would all cede playing time to the erstwhile Aussie and, as the low man on the totem pole, that could mean the difference between having a spot in the rotation or not for the latter.
It’s a scenario that prompted Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale to lament, “Let’s also take a moment to shout-out Isaiah Joe for being the best (preseason) three-point shooter alive.”
Despite the strides he has shown this preseason, that may just be Joe’s big claim to fame for the foreseeable future.
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Philadelphia Eagles Star Weighs in on Simmons Situation
While Simmons received a great deal of negative press during his holdout, one person who can empathize with him is Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham. After struggling early in the City of Brotherly Love, Graham was also the object of fans’ ire.
In the end, he rebounded to become a Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl champion and a fan favorite. However, he thinks Simmons’ path to redemption could be more difficult. Still, he has a pretty good idea about how the former No. 1 overall pick should handle the situation.
“It’s a little worse for him because I feel like basketball players because you can see them and they visible and people can notice them a little more,” Graham said, via 94WIP. “When I wasn’t playing so good, people wanted me out of the city. They wanted me cut and all of that. It got to me, and I didn’t want to be here, and I had to fight against that, and I did. And the way you handle that is how you go out there and play and perform, and so I focused more on my craft and not worried about what other people had to say. That’s when I felt like things started to change for me.”
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