Philadelphia 76ers rookie Isaiah Joe never anticipated playing in the G League this season. A day after the rookie got drafted to the Sixers in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft, Joe told the media during his post-draft interview that the Sixers didn't have any plans to have him play for the Delaware Blue Coats.
For a while, that was true. For 34 games, Joe remained with the Sixers. And the rookie even had the opportunity to appear in 20 of those matchups as well. Over that time, Joe averaged 12 minutes on the floor. The rookie put up 4.3 points-per-game while shooting 38-percent from three.
Lately, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers loved what he saw out of Joe. Therefore, Rivers mentioned that the rookie could find himself a spot in the rotation with the regulars taking up some of Furkan Korkmaz's playing time. However, an impressive comeback performance by Korkmaz the following game caused Rivers to change his mind.
Not only did Joe collect just five minutes of playing time over the last four games since Rivers made that comment, but the Sixers even sent the rookie to Disney so he could join the Blue Coats in the G League bubble.
While the move feels like a demotion for the rookie, Rivers made it clear that the plan is to have Joe back with the Sixers sooner than later. “He won’t be down long,” Rivers said on Monday. “We’re gonna need him, but we just felt like with the All-Star break coming, there’s an opportunity to play a lot of games. He can play at least two games and then playoffs and maybe keep him down for a couple. We’ll see how it all shakes out.”
The move makes sense. After Wednesday's matchup against the Utah Jazz, the Sixers will go on an eight-day break. Considering Joe hasn't played much lately, the 76ers find it could be beneficial for him to get minutes down in the bubble where he's guaranteed consistent playing time with the Blue Coats.
“Just [getting him] minutes at the end of the day,” Rivers explained. “He still wasn’t playing a lot of minutes, and we just felt like, man, we gotta get these guys to minutes. We got to get them playing on the floor, and I think it can only benefit them. They’re too young to have an All-Star break is the bottom line.”
The Coats have three more games left on schedule -- with the regular season set to wrap up on March 6.