Four Takeaways from Sixers Opening Summer League Matchup

Grizzlies 76ers Basketball
Memphis Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama (7) drives against Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed Jr. (44) during the first quarter of an NBA summer league basketball game Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Jeff Swinger)

In their opening matchup of the 2022 NBA Summer League, the Sixers faced off with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Sixers and Grizzlies were familiar with each other’s rosters as the two teams made a trade at the NBA draft just two weeks ago. The Sixers acquired De’Anthony Melton in exchange for Danny Green and the 23rd overall pick. The Grizzlies used this draft slot to select David Roddy who ended with four points and four rebounds in his 17 minutes in the matchup.

Memphis has a talented collection of young players who each flashed their skills in the matchup. The Sixers once trailed by 17 points and never had a lead in the matchup. The matchup was closer than that would indicate and the Sixers even had a chance to win it with 15 seconds left to play. They ultimately lost 103-99 in a scrappy game where both teams showed some positive flashes and messy stretches of play.

While the Sixers may not have the intriguing draft pick that draws eyes, there is still a great deal of young talent within the organization. It was announced shortly before the game that reigning G-League MVP and recent Sixers signing, Trevelin Queen, would not be suiting up due to reconditioning. This was a disappointment but there were still plenty of positive takeaways surrounding the Sixers in the opening matchup.

Paul Reed may be destined for a bigger role with the Sixers

Paul Reed is an extremely strange basketball player and I mean this in the most positive way possible. He led all scorers with 20 points and also tallied 15 rebounds in which 7 of these came on the offensive end. Reed shot 8 for 15 from the field and also added 4 steals and 5 turnovers.

It was clear from the opening whistle that Bball Paul was there to make his presence felt. The 2021 G-League MVP made a positive impact in the Sixers playoff rotation last season and it was somewhat of a surprise he was even suiting up for summer league. The 23-year-old continues to play with off-the-wall energy and all-out hustle. His game still needs to be more refined but this should not distract from the impact he makes. People should not read into summer league play too heavily, but Bball Paul made a strong case why he is ready to be relied on as the primary backup big man. He must continue to work through the growing pains but Reed will be a high-level backup big man once he progresses through his development.

As the Sixers roster currently sits, Paul Reed and Charles Bassey are the only two backup big men on the roster. A strong performance from both players in the summer league would go a long way to securing the role and making the Sixers comfortable without having to sign a veteran. Bassey struggled a bit in the opening matchup and ended with 7 points, 6 rebounds, and a block in his 20 minutes of play. He shot just 2 of 7 from the field and looked a bit stiff at the start. Look for both players to build off the opening performance and settle in moving forward.

Jaden Springer has the Tools

It was a tale of two halves for Jaden Springer. At the start of the matchup, he looked somewhat lost on the offensive side of the ball and struggled to settle in. Following the halftime break, he made it a point to be much more assertive. Springer finished with 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, a block, and a steal.

It is clear that the 19-year-old has the tools, but has yet to fully put them together. He has eye-popping strength and athleticism which he used to make some impressive plays where he hung in the air and found a way to finish. While it does not look like he is ready to make the leap into regular contributing minutes on the Sixers yet, the upside the Tennessee product possesses is clear.

Springer also still needs to find his best positional fit in the NBA. He has an NBA-ready body and impressive strength. He uses this to impose himself and looks like a big man trapped in a guard’s body. While he may never reach the level of play as this individual, Springer plays stylistically similar to Jimmy Butler. Both guys do a good job using their physicality to navigate to their spots and put a priority in the mid-range. Jaden Springer also has some work to do in tightening up his handle as this was the cause of three turnovers last night- including one with a chance to tie or win the game.

Isaiah Joe Playing Hungry

Once a prized rookie in Sixers fans’ eyes, Isaiah Joe has become somewhat forgotten in the flurry of roster movement. The former 49th overall pick has been heavily praised for his leadership while the team has prepared for summer league. The third-year sharpshooter has not gotten as much of a chance at the NBA level as many have hoped but still has quite a bit of intrigue.

Joe tied Paul Reed for most shot attempts in the matchup with each player launching 19 attempts. The Arkansas product ended with 19 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. He gave a high level of effort and was seen diving on the floor for loose balls as well. Joe had some impressive flashes shooting off screens and shot 4 for 12 on three-point attempts. The 23-year-old looked much more comfortable on the court and should still have a place in the Sixers’ long-term plans.

Don’t Forget About Grant Griller and Charlie Brown Jr.

It is a real shame that Grant Riller got injured last season. The Charleston product has a smooth game and intriguing shot creation. He almost certainly would have gotten a chance on a roster starved for this skillset especially during the Covid outbreak last year. Unfortunately, he played a total of just 27 minutes before a shoulder injury shut him down for the season.

Riller made a statement why he should not be forgotten and tallied 12 points and 2 assists in his 14 minutes of play. The 25-year-old shot 6 for 10 from the field and made a statement about why the door to the NBA should remain open. Look for Riller to build off this performance moving forward as he continues his tryout for the Sixers and all other teams around the NBA.

Charlie Brown Jr did an impressive job bursting onto the scene last season. The Philadelphia native has had an impressive career in the G-League and made an impact in his short time with the Sixers. His athleticism and effort level were notable during his 19 games with the team last year. The 25-year-old scored 15 points in his 23 minutes of play. He also added 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block. The activity and high motor he plays with are impactful. Brown Jr did a good job imposing himself physically and getting up for rebounds. He will look to continue to build off this but it was a positive start to this summer league season.

As the Sixers roster currently stands, there are 16 players for 15 roster spots. This is without including the undrafted players such as Michael Foster Jr and Aminu Mohammed who each also showed impressive flashes. Philly has assembled an intriguing summer league roster with a great deal of talent. It will be interesting to see which players can continue to separate themselves moving forward, but there was a lot to like in the opening matchup. The team will be back in action tonight for a matchup with the Utah Jazz at 9 PM EST.

AP Photo/Jeff Swinge