NEW YORK — Isaiah Joe is aware that he may be on the bubble for making the 76ers’ roster.
But that wasn’t his focus during last week’s training camp at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. Nor will it be his focus in exhibition games and practices this preseason.
“My mindset through this is as long as I’m the best version of myself, I believe that I will be all right,” Joe said. “I believe that I will be all right, especially with the guys that we got.
“I feel like everybody that we have is here to better the team. For me to better the team, just be the best version of myself and everything will lay out as it should.”
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Monday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets marks the first of four preseason contests for him to make a solid impression.
The Sixers have 20 players on their training camp roster. They must cut that number to 15 — plus two two-way players — before starting the regular season. Right now, Charlie Brown Jr. and Julian Champagnie hold the two-way spots.
Rookie center Michael Foster Jr., who signed an Exhibit-10 deal for one year at the NBA-minimum salary, is expected to be waived and play for the Delaware Blue Coats.
The final roster spot could come down to Charles Bassey, Trevelin Queen, and Joe. However, the odds may be stacked against Bassey, a second-year center, making the team.
As for Joe and Queen, the Sixers would save money by waiving Joe, who’s in the last season of his deal. He’ll need to make the season-opening roster for his $1.78 million contract to become guaranteed.
Queen, however, signed a two-year, $3.5 million deal in July with $330,000 guaranteed.
That said, Joe’s work ethic was hard to miss at training camp.
He routinely participated in post-practice shooting drills with Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, and other teammates. He also attended all of the optional evening shooting sessions.
“I make sure that I’m doing all of the stuff that is optional,” Joe said. “I’m making sure that I’m in the gym, so I can’t be that player that’s labeled as not working. I’ve never been that in my life.”
The 6-foot-4 guard also bulked up to 185 pounds after adding 10 pounds of muscle this offseason. To get there, he ate at least five meals a day.
He had breakfast before lifting weights in the morning. Right after weight training, Joe would eat an early lunch and then head to the gym. He snacked after on-court workouts before heading back to the weight room. Afterward, Joe buckled down at the table, scarfing down a late lunch and two dinners at night.
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In addition to putting on weight, Joe is determined to show he’s a more consistent player.
He is an accomplished three-point shooter and a solid defender. However, Joe couldn’t stay in the Sixers’ rotation last season. He followed that up by playing a total of 1 minute, 8 seconds in the final four games of his team’s second-round playoff loss to Miami. Even that’s a bit misleading, considering that those minutes came in mop-up duty in the series-ending Game 6.
The problem was that Joe didn’t always flourish when called upon. But he displayed consistency while playing for the Sixers during summer league play in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas in July.
Joe was the leading scorer in Salt Lake City at 19.0 points per game. He was also tied for first in steals (3.0) and sixth in three-point percentage (44.0%). Joe also had one of the event’s best moments, draining a game-winning three-pointer with 25.2 seconds left in the Sixers’ 80-79 victory over Oklahoma City on July 7.
Then Joe made 7 of 9 three-pointers in a 24-point effort against Toronto on July 9 in Las Vegas. He averaged 13.7 points, 2.3 assists, and 2.3 steals while shooting 60% on three-pointers in three games there.
As good as he played, Joe knows, as an NBA veteran, he’s expected to dominate summer league play against rosters made up of rookies, G-League players, and professional overseas players. That’s why he continued to work out at least four times and eat several meals every day after summer league.
“That has been my grind over the summer,” he said. “Being able to come here in the best shape as possible, and be able to show improvement.”