Reed gets guidance from ‘big brother' Dwayne Jones, looks to secure role


Tyrese Maxey nicely captured the perpetual motion that's characteristic of Paul Reed at his best.

“Blitz, get back, reach, stick his hand in there, knock the ball away, run, block a shot, get the rebound, run the floor,” Maxey said Monday night following the Sixers’ win over the Rockets.

“He was really active. I think him and Jalen (McDaniels) together is very disruptive because of their length. … That’s really good for us, and it’s going to be good for us down the stretch as well.”

Reed’s night wasn’t all positive play after positive play, but Maxey got the gist of his game. He played 17 minutes, served as the Sixers’ sole backup center before garbage time for the third consecutive outing, and posted six points, three rebounds, three blocks and two steals. 

“Paul was great,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said. “Played with great energy. Him and Jalen … it’s an athletic second group. Both of them can run the floor. They create problems.”

In addition to employing PJ Tucker here and there in small-ball lineups, Rivers has gone back and forth this season between Reed and Montrezl Harrell. Dewayne Dedmon is now in the big man mix, too.

It’s a similar situation to last year. The Sixers also added a 33-year-old center on the buyout market — DeAndre Jordan, in that instance — and Reed’s position was uncertain. He ultimately backed Joel Embiid up in the Sixers’ first-round playoff series win over the Raptors and also appeared in every game of the team’s Round 2 loss to the Heat, although Jordan started Games 1 and 2 with Embiid injured.

Reed would love to lock down a stable role. 

“I mean, I’m a competitor,” he said. “I love to compete, but it can get frustrating. And it’s a lot of pressure but I feel, a dude like me, pressure always brings the best out of me. It is what it is.”

Rivers has stressed the importance of details to Reed. While Rivers has encouraged the 23-year-old not to worry a ton about fouls, he’s wanted to see Reed execute sharply, set good screens and roll hard, move the ball briskly, and play consistently sound defense. 

Reed knows all of that’s worth focusing on and box-score numbers don’t necessarily mean much. 

“I think the biggest things I was working on were just finishing around the rim and getting stronger,” he said. “And little details like setting screens, angles, defensive coverages, making sure I’m in the right places. I’ve been working on all that kind of stuff. Free throws as well.”

After the Sixers' morning shootarounds, Reed has often been the last player on the floor. With help from Sixers assistant/skill development coach Dwayne Jones, Reed has worked on his left hand, his jump shot, scoring through contact and plenty of other tools.

Jones and Reed have extended conversations at times, too. As Reed highlighted Monday, Jones understands internal competitions and sporadic minutes in the NBA quite well. The former Saint Joseph’s big man’s journeyman professional career included 82 NBA games across four teams. 

“He’s great,” Reed said of Jones. “He’s 6-9, he played in the league. He understands the trials and tribulations that I’m going through right now because he went through the same thing.

“He’s like a big brother for me. He guided me in the right direction — letting me know what to do, what not to do, how to feel, how not to feel. And it’s helping me a lot, because I’m still here.”

The 58th pick in the 2020 draft is indeed still a Sixer. And as far as the backup center picture, Reed will aim to control what he can. 

“The chemistry between me and my teammates was a little off when I first started getting minutes (again),” he said. “But I feel like it’s gotten a lot better and I’m starting to understand when to set the screen, when to not set the screen, what side to be on to give my teammates the lane to drive. Little things like that make a big difference when I’m out there on the court."

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