Back in 2019, when Eric Musselman made the move to take over at Arkansas, there was a common concern on hand for a new coach: Could he get buy-in from the team’s top returning player, sophomore guard Isaiah Joe, who had averaged 13.9 points as a freshman? The Razorbacks had come off a disappointing 18-16 season, and Joe would be key to pushing the team forward.
“He was awesome,” Musselman told Heavy.com. “He bought in right away. He helped establish our culture—he’s real easy to coach. His family is awesome, he’s a winner, his teammates love him. … A great guy, really good locker room guy, works on his game, incredible range.”
For two years, NBA fans in Philadelphia have had only limited glimpses of Joe, taken by the Sixers in the second round of the 2020 draft, as he has appeared in 96 games and logged 992 minutes. He has not had much floor time with the Sixers’ G-League affiliate, either, playing only three games there as a rookie.
But that could be changing for Joe as he prepares for his third NBA season. The Sixers are in need of two-way, 3-and-D players and though Joe has not shot that well on the NBA level (34.9% from the 3-point line), he has not had a consistent chance to show what he can do. The Sixers may need that to change in 2022-23. That should start with his shot—he made 37.8 of his 3s at Arkansas.
“The thing that should get him on the floor to start with is his shot,” said Musselman, who was an NBA assistant for 10 years and a head coach for three seasons. “He has such great range, he shoots the ball effortlessly.”
Isaiah Joe’s Defense Could Be Key to Minutes
Beyond that, though, Joe is an underrated defender. He is thin, at 6-foot-4 and 165 pounds, but he has the length and the basketball IQ to handle himself in an NBA backcourt. Despite ranking 12th on the team in minutes, he was tied for the team lead in charges drawn, with four. It’s a small sample size, but Musselman is not surprised.
“One thing about him that I think fans will like is he is an incredible charge-taker for a guy who does not have a lot of extra weight,” Musselman said. “He led us in charges and it wasn’t …read more