The evolution of Philadelphia 76ers rookie Paul Reed has been a major point of intrigue this season. In a year packed with positive developments, the former second-round pick’s “out the mud” journey has captured the imaginations of fans, pundits and players alike.
And the latest chapter of his underdog story was one of the best yet.
Facing an Orlando Magic squad that it had just beaten by 25 points, the top-seeded Sixers crew opted to empty its bench for its regular-season finale. With nothing left to play for, the club rolled into battle on Sunday with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Danny Green, Seth Curry and Matisse Thybulle all resting on the sidelines.
After logging less than 20 minutes for the entire month of May to that point, it was finally Reed’s time to shine, and shine he did. In 23 minutes off the bench, the 21-year-old set new career highs with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He also added three assists, one steal and one block for good measure.
Consequently, the Sixers came out with the win, beating the Magic 128-117 and finishing the 2020-21 campaign with a 49-23 record.
But Reed wasn’t looking to kick back and relax after his big game, even as he enters a postseason run during which he’ll likely not be afforded the same opportunity to shine again. He’s still looking for ways to help his team win.
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Bball Paul Aims to Push Philly’s Starters
While there was little at stake during the Sixers’ bout with the Magic, Reed relished the playing time he was given by head coach Doc Rivers. For him, the extra run was important to his growth as a player.
“I think it helps my development a lot,” he said, via The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Going forward, though, he’s focused on his team and its championship aspirations. He may not factor into Rivers’ plans for a postseason rotation, but he’s still looking to do his part by pushing the veterans on the squad.
“Just bring energy to the facility every day,” Reed said of his playoff goals.
“If we are going in there competing, making sure I am giving my all. Making sure I am busting my butt every day in practice, bringing that energy every day in practice so those guys can feed off it.”
It’s exactly that mindset that inspired the Sixers to convert his previous two-way deal into a full-fledged NBA contract. And he’s looking to take advantage of the longer look, regardless of whether or not he’s not actually on the court during the playoffs.
Reed’s situation with the Sixers is night-and-day different from his experience with the club’s G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. He had been the driving force behind Delaware’s dominant run in the G-League bubble, leading the Blue Coats to the title game.
Along the way, he started in all 15 of their regular-season contests, averaging 22.3 points (on shooting splits of 59-44-79), 11.8 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. He also led the league in WARP by a significant margin. As a result, he was the no-brainer pick for G-League MVP.
But Reed hasn’t let that go to his head.
“That is kind of a humbling experience,” he said. “It’s easy to get big-headed, but every day I remind myself to stay humble. I know I am good, but stay humble and keep working harder and harder and keep getting better every day. That is the mindset.”
Like Embiid, Simmons and the rest of Philly’s core players, he is fully committed to “The Process.”
“Trust the process,” he reminds himself. “TTP.”