LAS VEGAS — This trip to Sin City is all about bonding, playing together, and improving for the 76ers’ young players.
“I look it at as a great opportunity to build chemistry with my teammates ... and learn a lot about each other,” Paul Reed said of participating in the NBA Summer League.
Fans are also getting an opportunity to learn more about Reed, Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, and first-round pick Jaden Springer.
While it’s just summer league, Maxey showed why the Sixers are high on him. The second-year point guard was one of the best players during his brief time here. Joe showed that he can do much more than just shoot the ball. Reed showed that he has the potential to be a special talent. He’s just not quite there yet and needs to put it all together. And Springer showed a few flashes of athleticism. But as an 18-year-old, Springer also showed the Sixers drafted him 28th in the July 29 draft with eyes geared more toward the future than the present.
On Saturday, Joe, Springer, and Reed were the leaders of a Sixers squad that lost 100-80 to the Boston Celtics at Cox Pavilion.
Maxey, in a pre-approved agreement with the Sixers, was back at his alma mater, South Garland High School in Garland, Texas, running his basketball camp for youth ages 7 to 12. He is not expected re-join the summer-league team.
Maxey would have definitely provided a spark. Averaging 26 points in two games, the 6-foot-3 point guard is the league’s leading scorer. His highlight was a 31-point performance to lead the Sixers to a 96-88 overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. Seventeen of his points came during the fourth quarter and overtime period on a combined 6-for-9 shooting.
Without him Saturday, the Sixers were routed by the Celtics.
At first, it appeared Springer would have a bigger role in the offense because of Maxey’s absence.
In the first two games, he was stationed deep in the corner behind the three-point line while Maxey and Joe excelled as the primary ballhandlers at the top of the key. Springer was still stationed in the corner against the Celtics as Frank Mason III, recovered from an injury, started in place of Maxey.
In the first half, Springer was more active, and his teammates looked for him more than in the previous two games. He scored the Sixers’ first basket on a 12-foot driving floater. Then he added two layups in the second quarter, the latter of which came on a reverse. Springer made three of his six first-half shots.
Springer went on to miss all five of his attempts in the second half. He finished with six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds.
Joe had a team-high 15 points while making 5 of 13 three-pointers. He also added six rebounds, four assists, and one steal.
Reed had 14 points, 10 rebounds, one steal and one block.
The Sixers (2-1) will look to bounce back when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7 p.m. Sunday in the final preliminary game. They’ll face a to-be-determined opponent on Monday or Tuesday.
Maxey’s goal in Vegas was to show that he can lead an offense. The right-handed player wanted to focus on making left-handed passes and finding teammates in pick-and-rolls. At the same time, he showed a knack for getting to the basket.
Joe has been showcasing his slashing, ball distribution, and defensive skills.
“At the end of the day with Isaiah, because he shoots the ball so dynamically, we always just think shooter, shooter, shooter,” said assistant coach Brian Adams, who is coaching the summer league team. “But he’s actually a pretty good on-ball defender. Defensive schematic, he knows what to do and the last part ... he’s proving that he can handle the pick-and-rolls as a secondary ball handler.”
The Sixers actually knew that about Joe. He’s just getting minutes to show that in summer league.
Reed’s athleticism is on display. The power forward has even been running some offense on the perimeter. At times, things have gone smoothly and then you realize that this is all new to him on the professional level. At this stage in his career, Reed seems more comfortable and plays better when he’s closer to the rim.
But these games are all about preparing the Sixers for what to expect come next season, and equipping them with knowledge of what their second-year players can do.