The backup center spot was one of the most highly-debated topics in Philadelphia after the All-Star break. Losing Andre Drummond in the James Harden trade left them devoid of a big man behind starter Joel Embiid.
They trotted out DeAndre Jordan to start the postseason before finally settling in on Paul Reed. That move gets an incomplete grade heading into the offseason. Reed certainly showed promise, but he’s more of a power forward than a center. The guy that the Philadephia 76ers really need to develop this summer is Charles Bassey, their second-round pick out of Western Kentucky.
At 6-foot-11, the young Nigerian has all the makings of a Drummond clone if he can bulk up. Bassey could stand to add about 50 pounds to his wiry 230-pound frame. It’s something the organization needs him to do. Head coach Doc Rivers noted that Bassey got “pushed around” during his rookie year.
“And then Charles [Bassey], I love that kid,” Rivers told reporters. “I don’t know if he’s ready yet. I would say he needs to get stronger. He gets pushed around pretty easy, offensively he’s raw but he’s not as raw as you think. But he has the chance to have a huge summer and as far as development we need him to. And we’re going to push him. Gotta get him stronger. That’s the number one thing.”
The 21-year-old went 53rd overall in the 2021 NBA draft, then spent the majority of the 2021-22 campaign down in the G League. He was pretty dominant for the Delaware Blue Coats, averaging 18.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in 17 games along with 3.4 blocks per contest. He was named to the All-NBA G League Second Team, NBA G League All-Defensive Team, and NBA G League All-Rookie Team.
Yes, the kid has all the physical tools. And Bassey is prepared to take the next step when it comes to developing at the Las Vegas Summer League in July.
“What I did [well] this year, make sure I do that better next year,” Bassey told The Inquirer. “I know I’m hungry, and I know I’m going to improve this summer.”
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Doc Rivers Shares Funny Paul Reed Story
Reed is going to have a major role for the Sixers moving forward. His hustle plays on the offensive glass didn’t go unnoticed in the postseason, especially when he was banging underneath against Bam Adebayo.
He averaged 3.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game versus Miami, although his penchant for picking up unnecessary fouls sent him to the bench earlier than everyone wanted. He’ll work on that.
“I’m going to compete with anybody and I’m not scared,” Reed said. “I’m not going to back down. I ain’t gonna fold. I knew that about myself going into it, but now I feel like the organization [knows] that about me.”
Rivers told a funny story about Reed after he delivered a motivational message to the team before he sent them home for the summer. Reed took it literally and hopped up out of his seat to go hit the gym.
“The reason we love him is because I’m talking about work and all of a sudden he stands up and he starts to stretch like we’re about to start practice right now,” Rivers told reporters on May 13. “But [love] his energy and the kid wants to get it right.
“This year with him in particular, just getting him to understand who he is and how he can be a better player now. It took a while and it grew and he started really focusing on execution, being in the right spot, and he did that. And eventually, he earned minutes.”
Embiid’s Teammates See ‘Fearless Competitor’
Joel Embiid played suffered through a broken face and sprained thumb for the better part of two playoff series. The Sixers lost in the second round despite the Phantom of the Process’ best efforts. Embiid clearly wasn’t the MVP candidate from the regular season, but he still averaged 19.8 points and 9.8 rebounds against the Heat.
He was a warrior in every sense of the word despite some confusing criticism from local media. Don’t bring that noise into the Sixers’ locker room.
“He’s a fearless competitor. And I think Joel would do anything for this organization and for his teammates,” Georges Niang said. “And I think he showed that, with all the injuries that he played through, you know all the scrutiny — guys missing on the roster, he still showed up every night and he was willing to get out there, put himself out there, and try to win and bring this organization a title.”