There were several notable off-season moves by the Philadelphia 76ers as Daryl Morey continued to put his fingerprints on the franchise. While each new player will play a role on the team, P.J. Tucker was certainly the prized addition. Joel Embiid specifically named Tucker as the type of player the Sixers were missing following the team’s second-round exit at the hands of the Heat. Morey added the veteran in free agency and the impact he has made through training camp and the first preseason game has clearly already made an impression on the rest of the team.
Tyrese Maxey was one of several Sixers players to speak highly of Tucker’s impact. As Maxey put it following the preseason victory over the Cavs per Ky Carlin of SixersWire:
“His intensity is next level. He got like four offensive rebounds in one possession. It was great to be on the right side of that. Last year, he was getting offensive rebounds, like you know, it’s easy to say, ‘Box him out, box him out, box him out.’ It’s not easy to really do it. So, it was good to see him on our side doing that. Also, he’s able to guard so many different people on the other end. He can guard guards, he can guard bigs, he can switch one through five, and he can do whatever he needs to do. Then, his championship mentality, championship communication is a thing that we really, really need here,” per Ky Carlin of SixersWire.
Tucker’s On-Court Play
In his 17 minutes of play, Tucker ended with zero points and four rebounds and missed his only shot attempt (which was a floater off of a pick-and-roll with James Harden). Just as his teammates are aware, it will never be Tucker’s role to fill up the stat sheet. But this does not change the profound impact he has on the game. On this play here, Tucker sets the off-ball screen to free up Maxey for the open three-pointer.
Tucker also makes his presence felt on the offensive boards which is a point of weakness for the Sixers. The Sixers ranked last in the NBA in offensive rebounding last year as they secured just 8.4 rebounds per game. While it was only preseason, Tucker flashed what an asset he will be in changing this for Philadelphia by securing two offensive rebounds in this possession.
Tucker’s Role On Sixers
While the Sixers have more talented players, it is Tucker’s understanding of his role that makes him so valuable. The Sixers have lacked a player willing to do the dirty work behind the scenes and this is the veteran’s strong suit. The 37-year-old has played in at least 10 playoff games each of the last six seasons and is the only player on the Sixers roster (Doc Rivers excluded) who has won a championship.
While it will be to be determined how much time Tucker sees for the remainder of the preseason and even the regular season, he certainly will play a crucial role in the Sixers’ playoff game plan. His hard-nosed style of play, basketball IQ, and willingness to do the little things make him a necessary addition to the roster. His first appearance in the preseason was only the tip of the iceberg for what he is capable of, but Tucker’s fit on the Sixers looks to be seamless.