Doc Rivers happy with rookies
The 2020-2021 National Basketball Association season has been a challenging one due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but a fun one to watch for fans of the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers sit atop of the competitive Eastern Conference with an impressive 39-17 record, with supporters already dreaming of bigger things.
Philadelphia have struggled in the playoffs in recent years and were eliminated in the first round last season by the Boston Celtics. This season could be very different though. Superstar Joel Embiid is having a stellar campaign, while the club also continues to get contributions from unexpected sources when they need them most. Friday night was another example of that.
The 76ers were missing three key players on Friday evening against the Los Angeles Clippers with the likes of Tobias Harris, Dwight Howard and Seth Curry all out of the lineup due to injury. While Embiid stepped up with a big night scoring 36 points and collecting 14 rebounds, the team also got plenty of help from a one of their youngest players.
20-year-old Tyrese Maxey saw an increased amount of playing time against the Clippers and took advantage by scoring nine points in a little over 15 minutes. His coach took notice of the rookie’s performance and commented on it following the victory.
“He’s kept his focus. I keep telling him, man, you’re going to win a game for us. You’re going to win a game in the regular season, and you’re going to win a game in the playoffs for us. You just have to be ready when that time comes,” said Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers after the contest, via SI.com.
Maxey was drafted 21st overall by the 76ers in the 2020 NBA Draft and while he still doesn’t get regular playing time, he has capitalized on the opportunities he has gotten thus far.
The experienced coach didn’t just praise Maxey though, as he acknowledged the hard work and effort that the team’s other rookies have put into the campaign as well.
“[Tyrese Maxey], Paul Reed, and Isaiah [Joe], with our skill development team…if you watch them work, I’ve been coaching for 20 years, it’s the best group I’ve seen from what you call the low minute group. It’s the hardest working low-minute group I’ve ever been around,” said Rivers.
Isaiah Joe was drafted in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft by the 76ers with the 49th overall selection, while Paul Reed was taken shortly after him with the 58th overall pick. Both players are still just 21-years-old, but have already had a positive impact on their team.
Being a rookie in the NBA is difficult in any season, but this year has presented even more challenges for rookies to navigate through including the lack of a summer league and a shortened training camp. However, it doesn’t seem like Philadelphia is having any issues with their youngsters.
Philadelphia continue their pursuit of an NBA championship when they take on the Phoenix Suns from Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST.