In the fourth and final game of the preseason, the Sixers fell 112-108 in an uneventful matchup against the Detroit Pistons. With the regular season set to tip-off on Wednesday, the Sixers elected to give several starters the night off and allow the young guys some time to develop.
Jerami Grant is a Stud
Jerami Grant is no stranger to the Sixers as they drafted him with the 39th overall pick in the 2014 draft. Grant spent 144 games across three seasons with the Sixers and averaged 8.2 points 3.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. The 6’8 forward played during the prime years of “The Process,” including the 10-72 season in 2015. Grant was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 for Ersan Ilyasova and a future first-round pick.
Since this time, Grant has made massive improvements to his game. He has bounced around the NBA for a few years before finding a home with the Pistons. The Syracuse product was a finalist for Most Improved Player last season after averaging 22.3 points per game.
Leading the team in scoring with 24 points, Grant proved last year was no fluke. He played with newfound confidence and made his case why he should be a foundational piece of the Pistons’ future. The 27-year-old teases even more potential and if he can continue to improve Jerami Grant will become a name everyone should know.
Andre Drummond Revenge Game
In his first game back in Detroit after his 8 seasons played with the franchise, Andre Drummond was showered with boos by the Pistons faithful. The two-time all-star and four-time rebounding champ averaged 14.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks during his time with the Pistons.
With Joel Embiid taking the game off, Andre Drummond once again served as the starting center. He made an effort to be involved on offense and finished with 17 points and 7 rebounds in 21 minutes of play. Drummond once again gave evidence why he will be a massive upgrade in the minutes that were previously carved out for Dwight Howard. The 28-year-old has a much more polished offensive game, uses his body more effectively, and simply has more in the tank at this stage of his career.
Notable Bench Performances
Doc Rivers did not hesitate to empty the bench and give the young guys a chance to make their final auditions for minutes. For the most part, more of the same was seen from the team. Shaquille Harrison looks exciting, but it is unlikely he sticks with the team. Jaden Springer is several years away from contributing to a competitive NBA team. The end of the bench showed some exciting energy with their chance and kept the game entertaining by making an over 10-point comeback.
He was not perfect, but Isaiah Joe continued to build off the impressive preseason he has already put together. The Arkansas sharpshooter scored 14 points along with 3 assists and shot four of eight from beyond the arc. Joe impressed on the defensive end as well and the Sixers ran several plays to take advantage of his long-term ability.
Even considering the depth of the bench and Doc Rivers‘ tendency to avoid playing young players, Isaiah Joe absolutely has earned minutes this season. Joe has been the story of the preseason and did nothing to change this in the final game.
Expectations are sky-high for the second-year guard. Tyrese Maxey had a terrific rookie year and has become the beneficiary of the Ben Simmons drama. He looked solid in the first preseason game against the Raptors but was held out of the previous two games. Maxey ended with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists while showing some promising reads in the pick-and-roll.
The Kentucky guard also showed the continued development of his jump shot and knocked down two of his six three-point attempts against the Pistons. He was 7-16 from the field and there were also some negative moments defensively from the duo of Maxey and Curry. The excitement surrounding Maxey has been earned, but there is a ton of growth that still needs to occur. With the cloud of Ben Simmons’ return hanging fully over his head, it will be interesting to see what Maxey’s role looks like this season.
As disappointing as it may be, Paul Reed may be finding himself back in the mud. The former G-League MVP is impossible to take your eyes off on the court due to his infectious energy. It was surprising to see him stay in this game after he picked up four fouls in the first half. Ultimately, he spent 30 minutes on the court and tallied 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.
Given the games off that Joel Embiid will require, the door will remain open for playing time for Reed. The 22-year-old attempted just 3 three-pointers in preseason (one tonight) and he did not connect on any. Andre Drummond and Georges Niang each proved that they will be upgrades in the rotation and will almost certainly be called on before Reed. The defensive versatility and unique skill set make him worth developing, but Rivers may not call his name as much as fans might hope.
The Sixers preseason is now complete and they will turn their focus to the games that matter. The million-dollar question remains what is the status of Ben Simmons as he has now passed protocol and can return to the team. Doc Rivers says he expects Simmons at practice on Sunday, and hopefully, there will be some more clarity after this. Regardless of if he will be in the lineup, the Sixers will take on the Pelicans on Wednesday in New Orleans.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire