Paul Reed has yet to play a game for Nick Nurse.
When the Sixers’ new head coach talks about the versatile 24-year-old, it doesn’t sound that way.
“First of all, I love him,” Nurse said of Reed on Sixers guard Patrick Beverley’s podcast. “Plays hard, has got an incredible nose for the basketball. I’ve got a lot of time for guys that can go get the ball. I think the ball’s pretty important in the game, and he can really go get it. And even when he doesn’t, he just misses it about 25 times a game where you think he’s going to get it.
“He’s had a great summer — amazing. He’s really worked. From the moment I got the job, he got in the shooting program and he’s been on it. He’s in shape. Will he play with (Joel) Embiid? For sure. I don’t think that that’s a question. He’s going to be out there playing hard, he’s going to be defending, and he’s going to be doing probably more than he’s done before. I think he’s ready to take a step up. He can play.”
While that’s high praise for someone who only averaged 10.9 minutes in his third NBA season, Reed’s knack for finding the ball hasn’t just been an intangible tool. Among all players last year, Reed ranked third in steals per 36 minutes (2.2), fourth in offensive rebounds (5.3), and 10th in blocks (2.4).
Those promised minutes at power forward next to Embiid will be interesting. Though Embiid will presumably be the Sixers’ offensive hub, perhaps Reed will have more of a green light to take open three-pointers as he did in his G League days.
Looking back at his brief stint with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Beverley recalled a message from Nurse about putting up jumpers.
“I come from overseas, I get to a timeout, and Nick Nurse goes, ‘You know you can shoot transition three-pointers’ — with the calmest (tone), not angry, not screaming,” Beverley said. “Coach tells you that in the midst of the battle, you run through a wall for a coach like that.
“Obviously the coach trusts you. But once you have trust in a coach like, ‘Hey, this motherf---er has my back, he ain’t trying to f--- me,’ I think you get the best player out of that more than anything.”
As for Embiid, Nurse expanded on the initial thoughts he shared about the All-Star center at his introductory press conference.
“I hate to be boring and start on the defensive end, but I’m going to really expect a lot of rim protection from him,” Nurse said. “I’d say that would be where I’m going to start. We’re going to probably let our aggressive guards be really aggressive and funnel a lot of things to him. I always say it’s easier to take more swings at blocked shots. If you want to block more shots, you’ve got to swing more.
“I think he continues to develop and be creative on offense. I would imagine you’ll see him doing a little bit of everything offensively, from bringing it up the floor to running screen-and-rolls to (dribble handoffs). We’re going to be running some down screens, cross screens, back screens. They’re going to have to defend everything with him, and hopefully we can get him the ball.”
You can listen to the full interview with Nurse below: