The Sixers have an impressive amount of talent under the age of 24. Which of these guys can make the jump, and what could they bring.
Despite the Sixers not having a losing season in the past four seasons, the franchise has managed to assemble a talented group of young players to round out their roster. Highlighted by the impressive draft class last year of Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, and Paul Reed, there is a ton of promise among the Sixers youth. If any of these potential young studs are able to take the leap in development this summer, it could pay massive dividends in raising the overall ceiling of the team.
After being drafted 21st overall in last year’s draft, Maxey has proven to outperform this draft slot and show extremely encouraging flashes about his future. He averaged 15.3 minutes per game and tallied 8 points, 2 assists, and 1.7 rebounds during this time. Maxey saw his minutes fluctuate throughout the season but remained ready for every challenge. The Kentucky guard even scored 39 points in a shorthanded loss to the Nuggets and shouldered 157 minutes of playoff minutes.
The 20-year-old flashes the highest ceiling of any of the players on this list and appears to have every intention of trying to reach it. Doc Rivers has talked extremely highly of the impressive work ethic of the rookie. Maxey himself echoed this sentiment in his exit interview, saying that- “One thing that I will say that will be going on during this offseason, I will get 1% better every single day, and I’ll make that promise to myself.”
Maxey’s role on the Sixers next season is very dependent on how the rest of the roster shapes out. With the Ben Simmons rumors likely to continue for several more weeks, and it seems very unclear who will occupy guard minutes next season, Maxey is in a prime position for a bump in time. The rookie was one of the first guys off the bench throughout the playoffs, and he could be primed for sixth man minutes next year if there is no starting spot available.
If Matisse Thybulle is able to knock down three-pointers at a more consistent rate, he deserves consideration for a role as a starter. The second-year player averaged 3.9 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 1 assist in 20 minutes per game. His defensive numbers are absolutely off the charts, and he has evolved from a loveable role player to a key member of the Sixers rotation very quickly.
Similar to Tyrese Maxey, the role of Matisse is somewhat dependent on what happens with Ben Simmons. If Simmons is shipped off, the door opens for Thybulle to become the primary perimeter defender and his deficiencies are able to be hidden more. While defensively, the duo was extremely intimidating, Simmons and Thybulle struggled to coexist on the offensive end due to overlapping flaws. Regardless, it is extremely important for Thybulle to work on his three-point shot this offseason. While he showed a large amount of growth as a cutter this season, his three-point percentage dropped to 30.1% this season despite knocking them down at 35.7% his rookie year. His bread will always be buttered on the defensive end, but adding layers to his offensive game would make him a scary sight for opposing teams.
Next up on the list of likable young guys is Paul Reed. While he did not clock many minutes with the Sixers, Bball Paul was crowned G-League MVP and Rookie of the Year for his time spent down there. He has a weird style of play and impressive energy that he just needs to polish up. Giving him minutes to develop in the G-League was a brilliant move on the Sixers part, and the franchise decided to convert his deal from a two-way to a traditional contract once the G-League was finished.
He was too raw to be given significant minutes this season, but Bball Paul also fills a position of need for the Sixers. Standing at 6’9, Reed has the potential to grow into a reliable stretch four in the NBA. He also has an impressive handle and an intriguing overall skillset. There aren’t any glaring weaknesses in his game, and the biggest improvements will simply come with time and him getting a better feel for the game. At 22-years-old, it is unclear how quickly the DePaul product will be able to develop, but the backup minutes behind Tobias Harris are certainly up for grabs.
It is unclear exactly what decisions will be made regarding the team’s current free agents, but it appears likely Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz will not be coming back. This leaves a massive need for someone to step up as a shooter, and this is exactly what Isaiah Joe does best. Despite logging just 383 minutes this season, Joe attempted 106 threes and averaged 3.2 FGA per game in 9.3 minutes played.
The Arkansas product is a pure volume shooter and also spent time with the Delaware Blue Coats this season. In the three games he spent with the team, Isaiah Joe averaged 23.3 points and attempted 12.7 threes per game while knocking them down at a 39.5% rate. He also impressed on the defensive end and proved to be much more advanced in this area than expected. The SG/SF made use of his near 6’8 wingspan and also showed no fear in putting his body on the line by taking multiple charges in his limited minutes.
There was a ton of hype surrounding the potential of what Doc Rivers could do with Shake Milton. Given his track record with 6th men and Rivers adding fuel to this by saying he did not believe the league had caught up to Shake yet, hopes were sky-high. The 24-year old averaged 13 points, 3.1 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game this season but failed to find his flow within the team.
Milton certainly has more to his game than he showed this season, and he still played an important role in the playoffs despite the lack of minutes. His electric run where he scored 14 points and recorded a +15 rating in under 15 minutes of play helped secure a victory in game two of the Hawks series. Even with his struggles, Shake has an impressive ability to go get a bucket that no one else on the roster currently possesses. He also is on one of the best contracts in the league, with next year guaranteed and a player option for the following year.
Having five guys age 24 or younger flashing serious potential is a great sign for the Sixers. Each of these players has the opportunity to take a major leap and could prove to be extremely impactful next year. It is also worth noting that if a blockbuster deal is in the works that these players may be put in to secure the deal. It is also exciting to see what Daryl Morey elects to do in this year’s draft, and it is tough not to be excited based on last year’s results. This is a crucial offseason for the Sixers, and if their young players are able to take a major step in development, it could go a long way to helping the team.