The Philadelphia 76ers didn't have too many positive takeaways from Monday night's preseason opener. As Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Ben Simmons missed the matchup, the shorthanded starting lineup didn't flash much outside of Andre Drummond's stellar Sixers debut and Seth Curry's continued sharpshooting.
But preseason isn't always about wins and losses and what the starters do. It's more about the rotation battle and continued development from younger players who didn't see a ton of playing time before.
Sixers' second-year guard Isaiah Joe falls under that category. Although he played more than expected last year due to COVID-19 health and safety protocol issues, Joe found himself out of the rotation when the team was relatively healthy.
This year, he's looking to change that. Back in August, when playing with the Sixers' NBA Summer League team, Isaiah Joe was one of Philly's few standouts. Then when the 76ers took the floor on Monday night for the first of two preseason matchups against Toronto, Joe was easily the most intriguing bench player.
Picking up 26 minutes of action off the bench, Joe chucked up nine shots, draining five of them. With eight of those shot attempts coming from beyond the arc, Joe knocked down 50-percent of his threes on Monday. He ended the night with 18 points just behind the team's scoring leader, Andre Drummond.
After having a stellar 2021 preseason debut and a quietly solid training camp, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers is convinced the second-year guard out of Arkansas needs to get more minutes to show he belongs in the regular-season rotation.
"We got to get him on the floor more is what I keep telling our coaches because these ten guys are playing so much that Isaiah did a good job," Rivers said. "I told him, 'I don't care what unit you're on, just keep going back and forth.' He's got to get on the floor more. I thought today he did a good job of that. So, it's good."
Joe understands the wing position is deep in Philly, and earning more playing time is certainly an uphill battle. However, after spending a shortened season playing under Doc Rivers, the young guard knows exactly what he has to do to earn more time on the court in the future.
"I think for me, it is getting better. Getting better as an individual, getting better as a team player, being able to execute whenever I get in the game," Joe explained. "Being able to produce and be consistent. I think that's one of my biggest things this year which is to be consistent so I can get out there on the court."
Knowing nothing is guaranteed to anybody in the NBA, Joe made it clear he understands he's fighting for minutes during the preseason this year. Last year, the young guard proved he could heat up and become a sharpshooter from deep and even flashed a solid defensive skillset. So, he's focused on continuing to excel in those areas.
"I'm gonna do what I do, and I'm gonna shoot the ball and predicate a lot of my game on the defensive end," Joe continued. "Showing that I can be versatile, showing that I'm not a liability on the defensive end. That's one thing I'm really taking pride in."
Joe and the Sixers take the floor once again on Thursday night for a rematch against the Raptors. Considering he's left Doc Rivers and the rest of the coaching staff impressed with his second year development so far, he'll likely see a lot of playing time once again in the second outing of the offseason.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.