One of the better storylines surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers has been the development of Paul Reed. The former 58th overall pick in the 2020 draft has gone from a fan-favorite to a necessary part of the Sixers rotation. Reed made his presence felt in last year’s postseason where his defensive impact helped the team a great deal. The backup center role has been an Achilles Heel for the Sixers for several years and Reed’s play was able to help solve this.
However, the battle for backup center minutes has gotten more competitive. The additions of Montrezl Harrell and P.J. Tucker provide the team with new-look options for the role and will likely eat into Reed’s time. The third-year big man opened up about this when speaking to the media following Saturday’s team practice.
“To me, I just control what I can control. I gotta go out there. Whenever I get an opportunity to play, I just need to make sure that I’m doing what I needed to do, and taking advantage of it. Being aggressive, helping the team win. That’s how I look at it,”- Paul Reed per Ky Carlin of SixersWire.
Sixers Backup Center Battle
The backup center position has been a major point of weakness for the Sixers throughout Joel Embiid’s entire tenure. Surviving the minutes without their superstar on the team is a challenge to every team, but the Sixers have done an especially poor job of covering up this hole in years past.
This has clearly been a priority since Daryl Morey took control of player decisions within the organization. While the thought process behind players like Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, and DeAndre Jordan made sense they simply did not cut it in a postseason rotation.
The prized addition of this Sixers’ offseason was P.J. Tucker. He will primarily play forward alongside Embiid and the rest of the starting lineup, but Doc Rivers hinted at Tucker getting some time at center as well. The team also added Montrezl Harrell who is the most offensively gifted bench player the franchise has had in many years.
Reed also deserves credit for keeping the right mindset throughout this process. Many players would be deterred by the team bringing in a number of options for the same role he has flashed success in. The 23-year-old also mentioned how much he is learning from the veterans and also said he believed they all are versatile enough to share the floor as well.
Reed’s Defensive Impact
Each big man option has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, but where Reed stands out is his impact on the defensive end. Standing 6’9″, Reed is also the tallest of the backup options- outside of Charles Bassey. While the height is beneficial to his interior defense, it is versatility and instincts that truly make Reed stand out.
Reed’s 5.3 deflections per 36 minutes tied with Matisse Thybulle for the best mark in the NBA. While his stats generally don’t jump off the page, the 3.9 steals and 1.7 blocks per 36 minutes indicate how intrusive he can be. The DePaul product has the footwork to be able to switch out onto guards on the perimeter and use his 7’2″ wingspan to swallow them up.
This is especially important in the postseason. The weakest link is picked on by opposing teams and big men who cannot switch are played off the court. This is the same reason the Nuggets had to take Nikola Jokic off the court in a must-stop possession in last year’s postseason matchup with the Warriors. Reed possesses the skillset that is important in the playoffs and could end up being the Sixers’ best option because of this. It is a great sign to see the positive mindset he has and the minutes he is receiving are evidence it is being noticed.