Isaiah Joe Making His Case for Rotational Minutes

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 25 Arkansas at Georgia Tech
ATLANTA, GA Ð NOVEMBER 25: Arkansas’ Isaiah Joe (1) reacts after the Mason Jones game winning three point shot in overtime during the NCAA basketball game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on November 25th, 2019 at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)

It’s not often that a player picked 49th is about to crack a rotation in just their second year, but Sixers‘ Isaiah Joe has a chance to do just that.

Isaiah Joe was labeled as a sharpshooter coming out of college with an unwavering desire to shoot the ball. He spent two years at Arkansas, where he averaged 15.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Joe’s calling card was from beyond the arc, where he launched 9.1 attempts per game and connected on a 37.8% rate.

This ultimately led to the Sixers selecting Isaiah Joe with the 49th overall pick in last year’s draft. There were whispers leading up to the draft that the Sixers had promised Joe a selection, and he ended up finding his way to Philly in the second round. While he may lack some of the buzz that surrounds Tyrese Maxey and Paul Reed, there is every bit the argument that Isaiah Joe deserves rotational minutes on this year’s Sixers team.

What Isaiah Joe Brings to the Sixers

In his time with the Sixers last season, Isaiah Joe was given action in 41 games. He averaged just 9.3 minutes per game, where he produced 3.7 points and tossed up 2.6 three-pointers. He was also given a start in a matchup with the Miami Heat as there were several Sixers ruled out due to Covid protocols. In the lone start, the shooting guard played for nearly 45 minutes and scored 18 points along with 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.

Largely due to the limited minutes, Joe also spent a few games with the Delaware Blue Coats. In his three playoff games with the team, Joe averaged 23.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.7 steals in his 36.5 minutes per game. As per usual, he showed comfortability shooting beyond the arc and connected on 5 of his 12.7 three-point attempts per game (39.5%).

At 6’4, the Arkansas product likely projects as a shooting guard, but his 6’8 wingspan and 8’5 standing reach are helpful in matching up with larger players. He is listed at just 165 pounds, and adding weight to his slight frame would be very beneficial in the long run. While he seems to have made some progress in this area, Joe still would benefit from hitting the weight room more.

Summer League Flashes

This summer league has proven to be a prime opportunity for the young guys to prove themselves, and it is clear that Isaiah Joe has not taken this lightly. In-game one against the Mavericks Summer League roster, Joe asserted himself right from the start. He hit the Sixers’ first basket of the game on a sweet step-back three and tallied 13 points in the first quarter. The second-year player ended the game with a total of four three-pointers and also recorded a team-high +33 net rating.

In-game two, Isaiah Joe impressed even further. He flashed some ballhandling and passing ability and ended with a stat line of 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Joe also added a steal and shot 5 of 13 from beyond the three-point arc. While the shooting will likely always be his calling card, these added layers to his game drastically increase his chances of getting on the court.

Competition and Future Outlook

While he will lack the offensive freedom he has been given in Summer League with the full Sixers team, Isaiah Joe projects as a near-perfect fit as a role player. He has flashed the ability to shoot off screens, shown legitimate NBA range, and also has shown positive signs on the defensive end. The willingness and desire to shoot that Joe possesses is refreshing and could be effective in injecting life into the Sixers lineup.

Looking ahead to the Sixers roster next season, there is no easy path to minutes for Isaiah Joe. Barring any trade, it seems pretty clear that Danny Green and Seth Curry are expected to start as the team’s primary floor spacers. Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle have earned their respective roles bringing instant energy as the first guys off the bench. In addition, the Sixers recently resigned Furkan Korkmaz, added Georges Niang, and Shake Milton remains in the picture.

It is unclear what the rotation will turn out to be, but as the roster stands, it seems fair to assume Doc Rivers may rely on old habits. The screams against the all-bench lineup are likely to ring out once again as the roster changes have only been subtle. Doc Rivers‘ stubborn commitment to stick to rotating in units somewhat complicates the situation, and Joe must find a way to get his foot in the door here.

When discussing the offseason plans following the season, Daryl Morey discussed how many of their improvements will be made internally rather than a roster move. If Isaiah Joe can continue to take strides to improve, this is a great example of this. His shot-making ability and volume of shooting should be intriguing enough to earn him an opportunity this season, and look for Joe to take advantage of this. He may not flash the potential of Tyrese Maxey or level of intrigue as Bball Paul, but Isaiah Joe has a chance to make a real difference on the Sixers this season.