Former University of Kentucky star Alex Poythress was officially signed by the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, and he didn’t have to wait long to make his NBA debut.
He subbed in for Dario Saric with 4:28 to go in the first quarter Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors and scored his first NBA points on a dunk less than two minutes later.
Poythress finished with 11 points, three rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot in 24 minutes in the 76ers’ 113-105 loss. He was 4-for-8 from the field and 3-for-3 at the free-throw line.
“I was real excited to get out there and try to take advantage of the opportunity I got,” Poythress told CSN Philly. “I felt like I was in a rhythm, playing in the flow of the game.”
Sixers Coach Brett Brown was pleased with Poythress’ debut.
“I loved him,” he told CSN Philly. “He had a bounce, he had a toughness — when you talk about those three cornerstones of the program: can you run, can you shoot threes, can you guard? I think he checks boxes. How well? We’ll learn more about (him), but on first observation, looking at him come on the floor — and it wasn’t like he played four minutes, he played 24 minutes — it was enough body of work for me to say he had a tremendous bounce and certainly took advantage of his first time in a 76ers uniform.”
Poythress had spent all of his first pro season in the NBA Development League. He averaged 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 blocks for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
“It expanded my game,” Poythress told CSN Philly about his D-League experience. “I really started shooting the ball well, just being more aggressive out there, just confidence, everything — it’s helped me a lot.
“That’s what everybody does: try to grind, try to work, never stop working and just try to wait for the opportunity, ’cause it’ll come at some point.”
Poythress had shot 40.3 percent from three-point range in the D-League, but he was 0-for-3 from behind the arc Sunday.
He has five more games to show what he can do at the NBA level.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Poythress learned Saturday morning, during the Mad Ants’ shootaround, that the Sixers were calling him up. He told the newspaper that he rushed home to pack and catch a flight to Toronto.
“It was a whirlwind,” he said. “I’m happy. I ain’t complaining. I will do it all over again. I felt all types of excitement out there. I’m just happy to be out there.”
▪ Fellow former Wildcat Patrick Patterson had six points and two rebounds for Toronto.