Philadelphia 76ers Summer League: 3 takeaways from the victory over the OKC Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Tre Mann (23) drives against Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed Jr. (44) during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Thursday, July 7, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Jeff Swinger)

The Philadelphia 76ers concluded the Salt Lake City portion of their summer league schedule last night in a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Exciting rookie Chet Holmgren was kept out of the game after playing back-to-back matchups the previous two nights. Isaiah Joe, Jaden Springer, and Paul Reed all made their return to the court after sitting out last night.

The team ended on a high note as they secured an 80-79 win over OKC. The Thunder have an exciting collection of young players even without their top pick on the floor. Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, and Aleksej Pokusevski each showed some notable flashes. Regardless, the Sixers put forth a scrappy performance and secured the win.

Jaden Springer’s Growth

When the Philadelphia 76ers drafted Jaden Springer with their first-round pick last season, they knew he was a project. The then 18-year-old was one of the youngest players in the draft class and is still younger than most of this year’s rookie class. Springer clearly has the tools of a productive NBA player but has yet to fully put them together.

He showed some positive strides in the right direction in last night’s matchup. Springer tallied 11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal in the victory. The Tennessee product was in attack mode early on and made his presence felt. The former 28th pick shot just 3 of 13 from the field but wreaked havoc on the defensive end.

It is clear there is a bright NBA future for Jaden Springer, but the Philadelphia 76ers must continue to be patient in their approach. He must continue to improve his ball-handling, develop as a shooter, and find a true positional fit as he makes the next leap. While these will all come over time, it is exciting he appears to be progressing in the way the organization has hoped.

Michael Foster Jr is a Name to Watch

Shortly after the draft was over, it was announced that the Philadelphia 76ers had made two additional roster moves. The franchise inked Julian Champagnie to a two-way contract and offered Michael Foster Jr a free agent deal. While Champagnie has struggled so far in the summer league, Foster has shown some real flashes.

The G-League Ignite product was the number seven ranked prospect in the recruiting class but elected to pass on the college route in favor of playing in the G-League. Foster Jr had a productive season and even averaged 16.3 points and 10.4 rebounds during the Ignite Tour. Despite the solid numbers, he lacked buzz leading up to the draft and did not hear his name called.

While the free-agent deal does not guarantee his spot within the organization, his play just might. Foster Jr played just 14 minutes in the Thunder matchup but tallied two points, four rebounds, and three blocks. The numbers do not do justice to the impact of his play. While most would have liked to see a little more time on the court for the 19-year-old, he still made a positive impact. The biggest red flag in his game is considered to be his defense, and the three blocked shots are a strong indicator of progress in this area.

Don’t Give Up on Isaiah Joe

After being selected with the 49th pick in the 2020 draft, many Sixers fans were excited by the potential of Isaiah Joe. Now two years into his NBA career, the future has started to dim a little bit for the Arkansas product. With the Philadelphia 76ers currently rostering 16 players for 15 spots and Joe on a non-guaranteed deal, there was some speculation he is not a lock to make the roster. The sharpshooter has done his best to put an end to these whispers and put on his best performance in the final game in Salt Lake City.

In the matchup with the Thunder, Joe scored a game-high 19 points along with four steals, four rebounds, and three assists. The 23-year-old shot four for six on three-point attempts, with none more important than his game-winning shot with 24.1 seconds left to play.

Many of his teammates have given Isaiah Joe a ton of credit for stepping into a leadership role with this Summer League roster. The Philadelphia 76ers did a great job running sets to free Joe up off the ball, and he flashed as a movement shooter. Very few players on the Sixers roster possess this long-range ability, and it is something the team has been missing. While there is still a lot to be proven for Isaiah Joe, he stepped up and became the closer the team needed in this victory.

There were a few other notable takeaways in the matchup as well. Paul Reed once again looked to be the most talented player on the court and tallied 14 points and 7 rebounds. Malik Ellison showed some really positive flashes after coming into the event, largely as an unknown. Trevelin Queen did not have as strong of a performance in his second matchup but still teased his potential.

What is Ahead for the Philadelphia 76ers Summer League

While their time is up in Salt Lake City, there is still work to do for the Philadelphia 76ers this summer. The team will now travel to Las Vegas for four more matchups. Their first game will tip-off at 3:30 EST on Saturday against the Toronto Raptors. They also will face off against the Nets, Heat, and Nuggets. It is also worth noting that Paul Reed will not participate in the Vegas summer league.

The Philadelphia 76ers should have seen more than enough from the 23-year-old already, as he projects to be the primary backup center this season. Instead of Reed, Filip Petrusev will be playing with the team. The former Adriatic League MVP was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 50th overall pick in the 2021 draft. It will be interesting to see what layers the draft stash has added to his game after spending last season with the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer league as well.