Former Sixers Big Man Inks Deal to Play in Taiwan

Dwight Howard, Sixers

Getty Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers, center, jokes with Dwight Howard #39 in a game against the Boston Celtics at Wells Fargo Center on December 15, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia 76ers have been through their fair share of backup big men during the Joel Embiid era. One guy who especially made his presence felt was Dwight Howard. The eight-time all-star took a stop in Philadelphia during the twilight stages of his career. Howard has now decided on his next location for his play as he recently agreed to a contract with the Taoyuan Leopards in Taiwan. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year took to his Instagram to make this announcement after flirting with retirement over the past few weeks.

Howard’s Time With The Sixers

In one of Daryl Morey’s first moves after taking control of the Sixers organization, he inked Howard to a one-year contract on a veteran’s minimum. This was considered impressive value for a player of the former champion’s pedigree.

During the 2020-21 season, Howard played in 69 games for the Sixers including six matchups in which he got the start. During his 17.3 minutes per game, Howard averaged 7.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game. While his tendency to foul caused frustrations and he did not prove to be a long-term answer, it was quite the experience having Howard in Philadelphia.

He deserves a ton of credit for his impact on the team beyond the court. Howard took his role as a leader seriously and was a positive influence on the younger members of the Sixers. The then 35-year-old made it a regular routine to stay late following games to shoot around with players like Isaiah Joe, Paul Reed, and Tony Bradley. Howard also was known for some of the best moments in the Sixers’ press conferences that season due to his charming personality and seeming comfortability in front of the microphone.

Sixers Backup Center Situation

Following the season with Howard as the backup center, the Sixers moved on to Andre Drummond. He was a few years younger than Howard and made a positive impact on the team. Drummond had to be included in the trade that landed James Harden prior to the deadline. Following the trade, the Sixers signed DeAndre Jordan which cause the backup center issues to resurface. Jordan eventually was benched in favor of Paul Reed, who provided solid minutes in the postseason.

Reed has once again battled for backup big man minutes this year. The Sixers also added Montrezl Harrell in the offseason who had his best seasons playing under Doc Rivers with the Clippers. It has been an interesting storyline to monitor which big-man option Rivers has elected to play.

Through the opening 11 games of the season, Harrell has played a total of 122 minutes on the court while Reed has received 57. In the 12.2 minutes per game Harrell is averaging, he is producing 4.0 points and 2.1 rebounds. The former Sixth Man of the Year has struggled on the defensive side of the ball which has opened the door for Reed. In the 7.1 minutes per game Bball Paul has averaged, he has produced 0.8 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. His defensive impact has made him an impactful player during his brief stretches on the court which is an area of need for the team.

In the most recent victory over the Suns, the Sixers elected to play Reed over Harrell for all 11 available backup center minutes. Rivers gave praise to the former 58th overall pick following the game. As he stated to the media, “I love Paul’s defense and his energy. We’re also going to play him at (the) four at times as well. Trez has his moments as well. I think you guys have seen that.” Rivers has also gone with the small-ball lineup and played P.J. Tucker at center for stretches to start the season.

It will be interesting to see how the minutes shape out as the season progresses. The Sixers will remember the season with Howard fondly despite him not being the backup center answer the organization hoped. Expect him to put up some impressive numbers in Taiwan where he will surely be a fan-favorite and star while the Sixers continue to work out the big-man rotation that works best for their success.

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