It seemed like year 2 was going to be Isaiah Joe’s chance to carve out his niche. The three-point specialist found himself in a dream situation playing for a team desperate for perimeter shooting and under-manned in the guard position.
Joe was destined for an uptrend within minutes. The Sixers’ second-round pick from the 2020 NBA draft called for more minutes. Hardly. Joe increased his minutes per game to 11.1 in the 2021-22 season from 9.3 in the 2020-21 season.
Joe probably should have seen more of the floor, except for one problem: the coaching staff didn’t trust him enough on the defensive. That’s something he’s aiming to fix this offseason. The first step towards this begins in the weight room where he’ll be looking to add muscle to his 6-foot-4, 165-pound frame.
“I mean, focus on my body, getting my body right and developing it,” Joe said when asked about his plans for the offseason. “This year, when I’ve had the chance to be out there, I’ve tried to put a little bit more of my defensive paralysis out there. Show that I’m not a liability to the defense.
“And this coming summer is going to be very big in developing my body, improving my skills, whether that’s shooting, being able to put the ball on the ground and creating – that’s something I’m passionate about this.” year was really missing. You know, being able to put the ball on the floor and create for myself and for others, so those would be two main areas of focus for me.”
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The Sixers knew what they were getting when they made Joe the 49th overall pick. He was a no-light assassin at the University of Arkansas, where he ranks #7 all-time for made three-pointers (207) and #6 for attempted three-pointers (548). There he shot 37.8% from beyond the arc in two seasons.
So, yes, Doc Rivers knows all about Joe’s shooting skills. It’s just a matter of rounding out the rest of his game before he can commit to giving him a permanent spot in the bank rotation.
“Isaiah Joe, I’m looking at him and I’m looking at that shot,” Rivers said, “and there’s so many other things he needs to work on and improve on to get down to earth, but this summer is important for him.”
Remember, this is a kid who stayed in high school two hours after exercises and took 1,500 to 2,000 shots. Thanksgiving, Christmas, weekends, it didn’t matter. According to his high school coach, Eric Burnett, Joe was always working on his shot.
“I think people see him shooting the basketball and they’re like, ‘Well, he just woke up and started shooting the basketball.’ No, this kid has been at his craft for a long time,” Burnett told Heavy, “and that’s why he can shoot the basketball like this.”
Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle earned Second all-defense team in the NBA honors on Friday. He received 87 total points, including 8 first-team votes and 71 second-team votes. It is the second straight season that Thybulle has been included in the exclusive defensive stopper roster.
Thybulle appeared in 66 games (50 starts) for the Sixers during the 2021-22 season. He averaged a career-high 1.7 steals per game while averaging a career-high 1.1 blocks. The 25-year-old finished the year with 115 steals and 71 blocks, giving him 313 steals and 189 blocks in 196 career games.