This season, all eyes will be on the Philadelphia 76ers to see if they can take that next step towards a potential playoff berth. In the offseason, the team signed both sharpshooter J.J. Redick and big man Amir Johnson to one-year deals in free agency to pair with the youth movement led by center Joel Embiid.
However, while all the attention is on the guys apart of the 15-man roster, the Sixers and the rest of the NBA have an additional two roster spots, which is for two-way contracts. This should help a lot of teams this season as they can develop players through their system while getting valuable playing time in the G League.
Earlier this summer, the Sixers used one of their two-way slots on forward James Michael McAdoo. McAdoo spent the last three seasons with the Golden State Warriors and a season with their affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors.
After signing McAdoo, they had one more deal to give away to the likes of either James Blackmon Jr. or Jacob Pullen.
When training camp opened, it looked as if Blackmon Jr. would be an absolute fit to receive the final two-way deal because he’s been with the Sixers since summer league. Pullen, on the other hand, was signed on September 21 and looked at by most fans as just a roster filler.
However, that would not be the case as on Saturday, the Sixers announced that they waived Blackmon Jr. and retained Pullen to a two-way deal. According to Derek Bodner of The Athletic Philadelphia, Pullen had an Exhibit 10 clause in his original contract, giving the Sixers an opportunity to put him on a two-way.
Pullen, the 6-foot-1, 185 lbs. guard, out of Kansas State did not play much during the preseason with the Sixers but has oodles of potential to be a solid NBA guard.
Many folks remember may remember Pullen from his Kansas State days, where he was ripping the hearts out of Big 12 opponents on a weekly basis and electrified fans with his scoring. In his junior year, Pullen began his ascent to being one of the tougher guards to defend in college basketball.
Pullen led the Wildcats in scoring, averaging 19.3 points per game and shot a ridiculous 41.9 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from three-point range. If that wasn’t amazing enough, Pullen upped the ante in his senior year, averaging 20.2 points, 3.7 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals in 32.6 minutes per game.
Just like he did as a junior, Pullen continued to show off his hot shooting stroke, knocking down 42.6 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from three-point range.
Despite ending his four-year career at Kansas State on a high note, Pullen would go undrafted in 2011 and began his world tour playing basketball. He started off playing hoops with Pallacanestro Bella in Italian Lega Basket Seria A and continued to do what he does best, which is scoring points.
With Pallacanestro Bella, Pullen averaged 16.0 points, shot 42.1 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from three-point range in 34.3 minutes per game.
Three-point shooting would become Pullen’s best friend overseas as he would have a ridiculous game a few seasons later with FC Barcelona Lassa. Against C.B. Valladolid, Pullen went off for 42 points on 12-of-15 shooting from distance, leading his team to victory.
The former Kansas State Wildcat put on the clinic, showing he could knock down the three-ball off screens and off the dribble.
However, do not let the three-point shot fool you. Pullen can get to the basket at will and has a nice hang dribble, which throws his defenders off.
Last season, he played with Khimki in the VTB United league and even though his scoring was down, Pullen still managed to average 9.5 points and shot 36.5 percent from three-point range on four attempts per game.
Nevertheless, Pullen should be a fantastic addition for the Sixers and the Delaware 87ers. Over their short existence, the Sevens have been known to have scoring guards a la Russ Smith and Sean Kilpatrick.
Pullen’s ability to score multiple ways should help him in Delaware, but to be a complete combo guard, he needs to show that he can be a facilitator too. But that is what the G-League is for, developing your skills so that you can get a shot at the NBA.
As the Sixers’ roster is currently constructed, it will be hard for Pullen to make the jump towards the NBA. Furthermore, if he can score and shoot like he has shown over his career, it will be hard to keep Pullen in the G League.