Sixers Experimenting With New Role For Fan-Favorite Big Man

Paul Reed, Sixers

Getty Paul Reed #44 of the Philadelphia 76ers dunks the ball past Max Strus #31 of the Miami Heat.

Few Philadelphia 76ers players have grown into fan favorites as rapidly as Paul Reed. The former 58th overall pick is coming off a season in which he provided the team with arguably the best backup center minutes the Sixers have seen during the Joel Embiid era. Reed averaged 3.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 0.5 blocks during the 11.7 minutes per game he played in the postseason. His impact went beyond the numbers as Reed’s energy and defensive impact were his biggest assets.

There were high hopes for the continued development of the DePaul product heading into this season. However, the addition of Montrezl Harrell lowered expectations for the opportunity he is expected to receive. Doc Rivers gave Reed a new sign of hope by hinting at shifting his role into a new position rather than just backing up Embiid, which could lead to more on-court play for him.

Reed’s Potential New Role

Rivers spoke about how the new additions to the team give the team a chance to be much more flexible in the on-court lineups this season. Reed is expected to be a factor in this and perhaps receive some time on the court alongside Embiid. As Rivers put it per Austin Krell of The Painted Lines:

Reed’s ability to guard on the perimeter is one of the most impactful in his game. His effectiveness to switch out and defend smaller players is unique for a player his size. While nearly all of his on-court minutes were played at the center position, he spent just 19.7% of his on-court possessions guarding opposing centers. The 23-year-old spent 56.7% of his time guarding forwards and 23.6% of his time on guards per

What Does This Mean For Embiid?

The Sixers have preached the importance of defense this offseason and set the goal of becoming the best defensive team in the NBA. Pairing Reed with Embiid could be a major asset in accomplishing this goal.

While the sample size is small, Reed played just 304 regular season minutes last year, the Sixers saw their steal percentage increase by 2.5% and block percentage by 3.3% while Reed was on the court. The team’s rebounding percentage also increased by 3.4%. In the postseason, the Sixers’ steal percentage increased by 3.1% and rebounding percentage by 4.3%. The block percentage went down 0.1% in the postseason.

There also was a drastic difference in the Sixers’ offensive rebounding when Reed was on the court. As a team, the Sixers ranked 30th in the NBA in offensive rebounds and secured just 8.4 offensive boards per game. However, their offensive rebounding percentage increased by 15.0% in the regular season and 11.8% in the postseason when Reed was on the court.

While there will certainly matchups that pairing the two big men does not make sense, allowing Reed to do the dirty work could be a major benefit to the Sixers superstar. There is already a great deal on Embiid’s plate on both sides of the court and handing off some defensive responsibility to Reed could free the superstar up to do more of what he does best.

Entering his third season in the NBA, Reed also deserves a ton of credit for not getting discouraged. The Sixers have run through a variety of veteran big men who have leaped past him on the depth chart, but Reed has kept his head up and continued working. The fan favorite has done his best with the opportunities he has been given and will be certain to do the same moving forward.

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