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Following the 2020 NBA Draft, former DePaul big man Paul Reed was getting ready to enter the big leagues as a late second-round pick. After remaining on the board for quite a while before the Philadelphia 76ers called his name, Reed made it clear he was entering the NBA with a chip on his shoulder.

The young post player landed himself a two-way deal with the Sixers. For the 2020-2021 season, Reed starred for the Sixers’ NBA G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. After a shortened season and a deep playoff run, Reed earned himself Rookie of the Year and MVP honors following his first run in the G League.

Many hoped that Reed would land a more prominent role on the main roster during his sophomore effort, but his head coach Doc Rivers was hesitant to give him an opportunity. Rivers never shied away from revealing what was keeping Reed off the court. While his hard work and skillset were impressive, Reed’s understanding of the system held him back.

Eventually, it started to click for the second-year second-rounder. And by the time the 2022 playoff run rolled around, Reed was viewed as Joel Embiid’s primary backup. 

In 12 games during the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Reed averaged 11 minutes on the floor. The young backup averaged 3.7 points and 3.8 rebounds while making 52 percent of his shots. While his stats don’t jump out on paper, Reed played his role as desired.

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Following Philadelphia’s playoff run, Reed mentioned he believed that he earned Rivers and the Sixers’ trust going into year three. And by the sound of it, the 76ers’ front office is banking on the idea that Reed could enter the 2022-2023 season as Embiid’s backup. 

“I know Coach Rivers is very excited with what Paul Reed gave us down the stretch,” said Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey, according to Ky Carlin of USA Today’s Sixers Wire. “Paul, hopefully, builds on what he did at the end of last year. We’re gonna be opportunistic with a bigger spend in free agency, there will be opportunities to look at minimum spends, but I think the bar will be high on a minimum spend at the backup center spot because we feel like we got some guys who can contribute.”

Training camp and the preseason will be critical for Paul Reed. While his recent playoff performance looks good on his resumé already, Reed still has to show growth and development in order to convince the Sixers that he’s the long-term answer behind Embiid, preventing them from searching for a replacement.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.

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