Sixers podcast, NBA preseason

Preseason Takeaways | 76ers Insiders Podcast

From the arrivals of Andre Drummond and Georges Niang, to Isaiah Joe turning heads, some takeaways from the Sixers' 2021 preseason
by Lauren Rosen and Matt Murphy

The Philadelphia 76ers' 2021-22 regular season begins on Wednesday in New Orleans. Then, the team celebrates its home opener on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Sixers wrapped up their preseason slate this past Friday. On this episode of the 76ers Insiders podcast from the 76ers Podcast Network, Lauren Rosen and Matt Murphy discuss some of their takeaways from those four games.

Drummond, Niang Acclimating as New Vets

With both Andre Drummond and Georges Niang appearing in all four of the Sixers’ preseason matchups, the new duo quickly showed what it adds to the squad.

Drummond came out hot in his preseason debut, notching a 19-point, 14-rebound double-double on Oct. 4 in Toronto.

“I’m really happy for Andre,” Doc Rivers said following the team’s final preseason outing in Detroit. “I think he’s showing that he’s more than a minimum player, clearly. And he’s going to do it every night.”

The big man went on to average 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds (17th in NBA) in the preseason.

Now, the two-time All-Star is eager to play competitive minutes alongside his new teammates.

“I’m having fun out there,” Drummond said Friday. “I’m enjoying playing with this team… These guys want to play. They want to win. The young guys that I’ve been playing with these last couple of games - these guys are determined.”

Niang made his own splash early, scoring a team-high 16 points and shooting 4-for-7 from deep in the Sixers’ second preseason contest on Oct. 7.

“It’s veterans... Both [Georges and Andre] - they just know how to play,” Rivers said Friday. “Georges has been fantastic.”

Niang, who started in three of the team’s four preseason outings, reflected on teaming up with Joel Embiid after Monday’s practice:

“[My job is to] make sure my guy doesn’t get in Joel’s way, so Joel can go score,” Niang said. “My job is to space the floor. Mainly, take away space, and be a guy with size to guard multiple positions.”

Core Leaders Setting the Tone

For the 76ers’ final preseason game in Detroit, Danny Green had a scheduled rest day.

On Friday morning, Rivers explained that despite the scheduled rest, Green traveled with the team anyway, in an effort to support the team’s youngsters.

“He was Coach Danny today at shootaround,” Rivers said.

Following Isaiah Joe’s 15-point outing on Oct. 7, he credited one of his other ‘player-coaches’, Tobias Harris:

“[Tobias] brings the team together,” Joe said. “He knows everything that’s going down at all times… Without Tobias - he’s the head of the snake - it would be hard.”

Harris has garnered respect from young players and MVP finalists alike.

On Media Day, Joel Embiid credited Harris for his sustained role as a leader for the team.

“It takes a lot to earn my trust,” Embiid said. “This is [our third year together], and as the years go on, you get to be around a guy, you learn about what he’s about. [Tobias] is a great guy. I respect him for being real. Lots of credit to him - he’s been the glue of our team, getting guys together, and keeping guys together.”

Harris, in turn, discussed his appreciation for the partnership he and Embiid have grown:

“We’ve been able to grow,” Harris said. “That growth has come from us communicating - He understands how much I care about basketball, and how important winning is for me. And vice-versa as well. I’ve seen how hard he works. I see what a lot of people don’t see.”

That work transfers to their on-court relationship:

“I know him to the point that when we’re out there playing, we can talk to each other,” Harris said. “We know how to communicate."

Stepping Up In Second Year

For more on the preseason play of second-year players Isaiah Joe and Tyrese Maxey, listen to the full episode of 76ers Insiders.

Takeaways Galore

The Sixers ranked first in the NBA with 15.0 steals per game during the preseason.

They swiped 60 total steals over their four games. In the third game, Brooklyn committed 27 turnovers, including 20 steals. Last regular season, the 76ers were the only team to record a game with at least 20 steals when they came up with 22 swipes on April 26, 2021 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Six Philadelphia players recorded at least five steals this preseason, including Isaiah Joe (7), Georges Niang (6) and Paul Reed (6).

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