NBA

Best case, worst case: Paul Reed has a shot at winning a full-time role with Sixers

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It’s mid-August, the Eagles are about to start pre-season, and I know you all have one thing on your mind: what can I expect from Paul Reed next year?

After discussing Joel Embiid’s potential paths on Monday morning, we take a look at Mr. Reed, who (as it stands) is a much bigger piece than he was last season. .

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Best case

The good news for Paul Reed is that he feels like he has two paths to a potential role in this team. One seems much more likely than the other, but we’re dreaming here, so we can consider both options.

From Philadelphia’s perspective, nothing would be more significant than Reed entering the start of the season and being Embiid’s undisputed replacement. Given the ups and downs of Charles Bassey’s Summer League, it’s more likely than not that he’ll get the first gig crack, but there are obvious doubts about his viability in an everyday role. and all matches.

To win this job, Reed mostly just needs to reduce fouling, which is a problem for many big men in their early years. With playoff experience under his belt, Reed should come back with more discipline, allowing his best strengths as a defender to shine. He’ll never be Embiid’s size, but Reed’s combination of length and athleticism gives him the chance to be disruptive, opening up options for the second unit.

One of the big plot points for me with the second unit – will they take on a heavier style once Embiid is out of the ground? Reed would be a big part of that. He has the makings of a guy who can stick with a fairly wide range of players in the 3-5 places, at least situationally, and he can erase some slip-ups and mistakes from others as a weak side assistant. If he can reliably protect the rim without being a bad magnet, they are off to the races with the second group. Think how chaotic it could be for a team to face Reed, Thybulle and De’Anthony Melton at the same time, with all three plunging into passing lanes and sending the Sixers the other way (try not to think either of the first two dribble a basketball after causing the turnovers).

A reasonable request for Reed is to become a more polished threat as a roller, where he showed flashes while playing with Harden but mostly earned his points with activity on the glass and sinking to duker point . Consistently making good screen contact and flying hard to the edge isn’t an extravagant request for him, and Reed has shown himself to be willing to stay in/embrace the role that’s asked of him. Reed told reporters he wants to work on his vertical in the offseason, and maybe that will give him more of a chance to hit the pick-and-rolls in style.

The pie-in-the-sky result? It hinges on Reed becoming a reliable outside shooter. The mechanics are clunky, the results haven’t been there, but if Reed manages to become a believable floor spacer, you might start thinking about using him as a gimmick, someone who can occasionally play alongside Embiid instead of only when it’s off the ground. This is where you can actively mitigate some of his defensive weaknesses and capitalize on his strengths, although the quick review we had of roster rates is below average in terms of numbers.

Something worth including here – Reed shot over 55% from the field in minutes in his first two seasons, minimizing shot attempts from anywhere beyond 10 feet. With slightly more opportunities last year, Reed took an even bigger share of his shots from within a yard (62.5% to be exact). This suggests that we’re unlikely to see an expansion of the lineup this season, although I’d say it bodes well for Reed in his case for a full-time role. Coaches want membership, and Reed has offered it even with a good chunk of his minutes coming in the trash in his first two seasons.

I don’t think a good Reed year requires him to do anything other than play the way he plays for more minutes, figuring out where the physical line is in the process. Youthful energy alone is valuable on the 82-game slate, and Reed has shown he can translate activity into results.

Worst case

Really, the worst case scenario for Reed is if Doc Rivers convinces Daryl Morey to bring in another bad vet he knows before the start of the season, with Reed not having an initial chance of winning the job. If Philadelphia gets to the point where it feels it needs more help, fine. But detaining several young greats on the roster and continually burying them without giving them a real chance would be a waste of the organization’s time and resources.

But suppose that doesn’t happen. For Reed, things don’t have to go wrong for things to go slightly off track. If he’s just the player he’s been thus far, that probably won’t be enough compared to what they need in the spot behind Embiid.

Remember, this is a backup gig where the understudy (or understudy, plural) has always had plenty of time to influence the team. Whether it’s minute restrictions and serious injuries, load management and minor issues, or even COVID-related absences, Embiid needs someone who can start in their place without having the totally out of his reach. No one expects Reed to replace Embiid, but he has to play his part if asked to start throughout the year.

This is where fouling, offensive limitations and his sometimes chaotic (but often entertaining) habits will eventually matter. Andre Drummond was allowed to get away with a few quibbles because he was ultra-productive in his minutes last season, but Reed will quickly go from “fun bench guy most people love” to target of scorn s ‘He can’t figure out exactly how bad, how fast and how clumsy he can be without putting himself and the team in danger.

Of note here – PJ Tucker was signed with the expectation that he will play at least one center this season, although it’s unclear if it will be an occasional exotic look or a regular trick up their sleeve. Reed’s success in the fifth reserve spot therefore has medium- and long-term consequences for one of their most important acquisitions of the offseason. If they end up playing Tucker more minutes than he should, and more minutes against bigger players, they could end up wearing him down and putting him at further injury risk to plug a hole at short term.

The key word for Reed this year is confidence. I’m not exposing state secrets when I remind everyone that Doc Rivers (like most coaches) may be reluctant to lay the blame on the shoulders of young players. We’re not that far off from the “Paul Reed Victory Tour” comments. Reed needs to make the head coach feel like he can be counted on to do everything a big man needs to do, from communication to rotations to setting the screen and, of course, defending without fail. It’s hard for anyone to deal with these issues knowing your PT could be ripped off at any moment, though I’d say Reed has a game mentality that serves him well.

It would be a shame that a guy like Reed never managed to carve out a role for himself, because I think a player who consistently brings it like he does is an asset for a long season, if not in the playoffs. They need more players who approach their minutes like Reed does, not less. But he has to walk a tightrope to hold on.


Sixers Best case, worst case

embid | reed | Harris | Tucker | max | melton | Thybulle | House | harden | rivers

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