LAS VEGAS — Isaiah Joe is The Sacrificing One.
As roles are being defined on the 76ers Summer League team, Tyrese Maxey is The Confident Scorer. Jaden Springer, who doesn’t turn 19 until Sept. 25, is known as The Young One. Paul Reed is The Special Player, while Filip Petrušev is The Shot Blocker with Good Feet.
Joe is the best shooter of the bunch. Yet, he’s been slashing to the basket to make things easier for teammates. Hence, the nickname.
“I think it’s a good way of freeing yourself, not only to get yourself open but for the other players,” Joe said. “When you have a crowded side, you always want to slash out ... to create better spacing.
“I take it upon myself sometimes to be that guy to sacrifice myself to get other people open.”
That’s one thing Sixers coach Doc Rivers harps on. It is also something assistant coach Brian Adams, who is coaching the Sixers’ NBA Summer League squad, has stressed since the team arrived here on Aug. 3.
“I’m going to lead by example doing that,” Joe said.
Sacrificing didn’t hurt the 6-foot-4 shooting guard’s performance in Monday’s 93-75 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at the Thomas & Mack Center. Joe torched the Mavs in the first quarter before creating scoring opportunities for others in the final three quarters.
Thirteen of his 15 points came in the first quarter on 4-for-5 shooting — all three-point attempts. Joe added two points in the second quarter on a pair of foul shots. The Arkansas native didn’t score in the second half while being primarily a decoy.
Joe’s shooting touch and ability to free up scoring opportunities for others could lead to a larger role in the rotation next season.
Joe left the University of Arkansas after his sophomore season, and the Sixers selected him with the 49th overall pick in the 2020 draft on Nov. 16. He went on to average 3.7 points and 9.3 minutes while shooting 36.8% on three-pointers in 41 appearances with one start.
He did, however, average 12.4 points and shot 17-for-39 (43.5%) from three during a five-game stretch from Jan. 9-16. He received extended minutes in those games while the Sixers were shorthanded because of the NBA’s COVID health and safety protocols.
“I think one of the biggest things coming into this summer league is doing what I do best,” Joe said, “staying within myself, and staying within the way the team wants me to play: Just being the best shooter I can be at all times, play great defense, and be a great distributor at times.
“Just being myself out there, knocking down shots when it comes to me. I think that’s really what the team wants from me.”
In addition to slashing to the basket, Joe is working on his ballhandling, playmaking, defense, and size. He’s up to 178 pounds after weighing just 165 when he was drafted.
Joe has also shown this summer an ability to take defenders off the dribble.
“I believe I can really bring that to my game, putting it on the floor,” he said. “You know, using the pick-and-roll, because that was a part of the game that I really didn’t get to showcase last year. I’d love to showcase that this year.”