Sixers ‘Dawg’ Signing to Have Different Role This Season: Sources

PJ Tucker Philadelphia 76ers

Getty P.J. Tucker formerly of the Miami Heat.

The Philadelphia 76ers look like they have their starting five sorted out heading into the preseason. Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and summer addition PJ Tucker rounding out the starting corps.

But while the personnel might be locked in, the way each player will be used certainly is not. After all, that’s what training camp is for: comparing different lineups to optimize each player’s individual talent on the court.

That’s especially true for Tucker, the aforementioned Sixers “newbie.” Tucker is entering his age-37 season in the league, so it’s natural to have some concerns about his ability to hold up over a season. According to one Eastern Conference executive who spoke with insider Sean Deveney, the Sixers plan on using Tucker for one purpose offensively.

“[Tucker is] pretty much going to be strictly a 3-point shooter. They need him to stay up around 38, 39 percent. Defensively, he is still very physical, he can still bring it. But he has got to be a good shooter to really have an impact there,” the exec told Deveney.

If Tucker is primarily used as a three-point shooter on offense, it will be a major departure from his role in Miami.

Exec: Cutting Will ‘Be Gone From [Tucker’s] Game’

With the Miami Heat last season, Tucker had two duties on offense: put up triples and cut to the rim on occasion. The only problem? Philadelphia doesn’t rely on cuts on offense. The exec that spoke with Deveney opened up on how that could affect Tucker’s game.

“I think one thing that helped [Tucker] a lot last year was that he was a pretty good cutter. Miami uses a lot of cutting action and he took advantage of that. He has not done that much in his career but it gave him some easy points, made him a little more useful on offense. Philly does not use the cut at all, so that is going to be gone from his game,” the exec explained.

The Sixers could use Tucker’s 3.5 attempts from three per-36 minutes of action and 41.5% make-rate from deep last season. But it also means Tucker’s role in the team’s starting five could be different than previously expected.

Rivers is Experimenting with Tucker at the Three

During training camp on September 27, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers revealed a few different lineup packages that Philadelphia was experimenting with in Charleston. And part of that discussion seemed to confirm what the Eastern Conference exec that Deveney spoke with initially observed.

“With PJ, it’s probably more 3 than 4 because we want PJ to be in his spots. We ran some Paul Reed at the 4 and Joel at the 5, and we ran some today with Tobias at the 4 and a small guy at the 3. We moved that around a lot today,” Rivers said.

If the Sixers do indeed play Tucker on the wing, it could open up space for someone like Reed or Harris to thrive in the four spot. At the very least, it shows a willingness by Rivers to give his younger players a shot to prove themselves, something he’s been criticized for not doing enough of in the past.

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