Even though the Philadelphia 76ers are among the best teams record-wise in the NBA, there’s one offseason move that they made they would probably like a do-over – keeping Isaiah Joe.
The Thunder managed to scoop up Joe after the Sixers waived him, and he’s worked out so well that ESPN’s Zach Lowe made a bold claim about Joe.
“The Oklahoma City Thunder signing Joe to a three-year, $6 million deal — after the Philadelphia 76ers waived him — probably stands as the most important free agency acquisition in franchise history,” Lowe said.
Lowe added that Joe’s impact changes quite a bit for the Thunder when he’s on the floor, even though his role isn’t too big on the team.
“Joe hasn’t played enough — 18 minutes per game — to butt into the Sixth Man of the Year conversation, but his shooting changes the look and feel of Oklahoma City’s offense. The Thunder have a lot of good perimeter players, but no one who shoots like Joe. He has drilled 42% from deep on 10.3 attempts per 36 minutes.”
Joe’s three-point shooting may have helped the Sixers. While they are tied with the Denver Nuggets for the no. 1 three-point shooting team percentage-wise in the league at 38.9%, they take the 16-most three-point shots on average, averaging 32.8 a game.
They may be shooting a better percentage than the Boston Celtics, but that could have had a bigger impact had they kept Joe.
Isaiah Joe’s Thoughts on Sixers
After the Sixers played the Thunder on January 12, Joe opened up about what it was like to be cut by the Sixers.
“It kind of came quick, for sure, but leading up to it, you could kind of feel that there was something in the works, but my job was to, regardless of the noise that was going on on the outside was still to be immersed in the game, in the moment,” Joe said. “Even before I got waived, I was still playing in the preseason games or whatnot. I still have my focus on the court because that’s what I’m here for. I feel like if you do that, and you work your tail off, everything else will fall into place,” per Ky Carlin of SixersWire.
Joe played two seasons for the Sixers from 2020 to 2022, in which he played 96 games. Joe shot 36.8% from three in his first season, then shot 33.3% in his second season.
Daryl Morey Explains Cutting Isaiah Joe
“We’re not going to have playing time for everyone. So sometimes, we’re going to cut players who are very good players. And we’re happy for those that go on to do great things,” Morey explained when asked about cutting Joe last fall. “There’s a lot of factors that go into it, including the current contract or the goals of the season to win a title. We could start bringing in worse players so we never cut a good one.”
Even though Joe has established himself as a threat from deep, the Sixers already have a player who specializes in that very area off of their bench – Georges Niang, who is shooting 40.3% from three this season – so who knows if Joe would have ever gotten the chance to prove himself had he stayed with the Sixers.