The 76ers G League affiliate Delaware Blue Coats had a season of firsts, but the chance for an initial championship was thwarted by an off shooting night both inside and outside.
Shooting 27 for 86 (31%) from the field, including just 8 for 39 (21%) from three-point range, the Blue Coats fell to the Lakeland Magic, 97-78 in Thursday’s G League championship in Lake Kissimmee, Fla.
It has been a dizzying month for the Blue Coats, who played 18 games in 29 days during the G League’s condensed schedule due do COVID-19. All games were played in the bubble, the same one used for the late-season regular season and playoff games last season in the NBA.
This was the first time the Blue Coats made the playoffs in their eight-year history. They were 10-5 in the regular season and won two games in the single-elimination playoffs before the championship.
While it’s a good experience to be in a championship game, the main goal of the G League is developing players for the NBA.
Three Blue Coats who draw interest in that regard are Isaiah Joe along with two-way contract players Paul Reed and Rayjon Tucker.
Joe, the second-round pick from Arkansas, has been with the Sixers most of the season, appearing in 20 games, but was sent down late in the G League season for some playing time.
He played two regular-season games and then the three in the postseason. Known for his three-point shooting, the 6-foot-4 Joe shot 15 for 38 (39.4%) in the three playoff games after going 3 for 9 in the final. He said he is returning to the Sixers on Friday.
“The difference [in the G League] is getting up and down the court, getting some runs and getting in the rhythm, being able to play,” said Joe, who shot 23 for 60 (38.3%) from three-point range with the Sixers. “It’s a lot different than just being in practice so I think it was beneficial for me to get here and get a few games under my belt.”
Reed, selected 58th overall from DePaul, had a dominant G League season. During the regular season, the 6-8, 218-pound Reed averaged 22.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots in 31.6 minutes. One area of his game that needed a boost was three-point shooting, and he hit 44.4% in the regular season.
“It’s only been two months [including training camp] but I think we’ve seen leaps and bounds of growth and maturity in his game...” Blue Coats coach Connor Johnson said afterward about Reed.
Reed appeared in five games for the Sixers before the Blue Coats began their training camp.
“No question I am really excited about his future moving forward and what that means for the Sixers, I think that guys who can shoot, that are athletic and know how to play is something that is always going to be valuable to the Sixers and I hope he can keep developing and stay on this trajectory to really kind of become an impact player,” Johnson said.
The 6-3 Tucker, who appeared in 20 regular-season games and two playoff contests last year with the Utah Jazz, scored a team-high 20 points in the championship, but shot 7 for 21 from the field, including 2 for 11 from three point range.
Johnson said the organization took a big leap this year, but he never forgets the main goal is the development of players. Sixers sixth man Shake Milton honed his skills with the Blue Coats, playing 27 games in 2018-2019 and six more last season.
“Our main goal is to develop these guys and to help the Sixers in any way we can,” Johnson said. “A lot of that means developing these guys who aren’t going to get a lot of minutes up there. ... I am very optimistic that these three will be able to stick around and really try to help the Sixers moving forward.”