On a G League or summer league court, there appear to be few parts of basketball beyond Paul Reed.
He makes three-pointers, handles the ball on fast breaks, hounds guards on the perimeter, blocks shots and slams in put-back dunks.
Reed, the G League MVP as a rookie, was named to the All-Summer League Second Team on Wednesday after averaging 17.4 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.2 blocks over the Sixers’ five games in Las Vegas.
The Sixers like all of that production, but the team has also been emphasizing the importance of non-box score contributions to Reed.
“For him we’ve just been preaching, ‘You have to buy into the little things that make you an elite role player,’ because that’s going to be his role with the big team,” Sixers assistant and summer league head coach Brian Adams said last week via Zoom. “And just do the little things. Maybe the first game he pressed a little more, he tried to score a little more.
“And the truth is he can score more if he does the little, role-playing stuff — if he gets to the second side in dribble handoffs; if he sets good screens; if he plays defense. You see his length — he can block shots at the rim, he can get steals. He did all that, and I think it’s a great thing for him to gain momentum, to see just do the little things and the rest will come.”
The Sixers are clearly intrigued by Reed’s seeming ability to do a bit of everything. He played primarily at power forward before sliding to a small-ball center role in the team’s final two games.
On paper, Reed might have NBA opportunities this season at both spots. The Sixers signed Georges Niang and Andre Drummond in free agency but still don’t have much depth in the frontcourt.
“I’m comfortable playing any position, really,” Reed said. “But I’m not going to lie, I like playing the five because I get to bang. But at the same time, I like playing the four because I know those perimeter dudes can’t really guard me like that. I (haven’t really been) getting in my bag, though, because I’ve been trying to play in the offense. So I’ve been trying to keep it simple.”
Though not short on bravado, Reed is realistic about where he needs to improve. Listed at 6-foot-9, 210 pounds as a rookie, Reed promised at his exit interview to enter his second professional year with “new muscles.”
So, how’s he doing with that goal?
“Man, you can’t tell?” he asked with a smile, pulling up his sleeve to flex his right biceps. “You don’t see the gains? I’ve been doing a lot of push-ups in the mornings. I’ve been doing a lot of working out, a lot of push-ups, a lot of burpees — just making sure I’m in the best shape possible. But as far as getting stronger and building my muscles, I think I need to work on my legs more so than my upper body in this next portion of the summer. So that’s what I’m going to focus on.”
The next chance for Reed to impress will be during training camp in late September. Adams encouraged his team to take time off after a busy couple of weeks in Vegas, but he knows Reed doesn’t like being away from a gym for long.
“For Paul, he knows our system now,” Adams said. “He has a year in our system, so it’s just the mastery of different positions on offense, a mastery of the defensive schemes that come with different positions. The biggest thing with him that we’ve been preaching is his versatility. He can do a lot of different things. The last two games, we’ve seen him play small-ball five. With that comes a whole different type of role and (different) defensive coverages, offensive reads.
“But then you put him at the perimeter — he played four in a lot of the early games. When (Tyrese) Maxey was here, too, that’s a realistic look of an NBA lineup, and he was good. So just keep mastering our stuff and being tight. He’s going to work on all of his (skills) and keep working on his shot. He’s going to work on all of the little things, because nobody works harder than Paul. He’ll be ready.”