At this point in the offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers‘ roster is almost fully complete. Daryl Morey has worked diligently, acquiring multiple depth pieces to put around the star duo of Joel Embiid and James Harden. However, there is one key role that is still up in the air.
Finding a suitable backup to Joel Embiid has been a top priority in recent years, but not this summer. Fresh off appearing in a career-high 69 games, the All-Star center continues to break away from the “injury prone” narrative that plagued the early years of his career. After holding his own in the postseason, Paul Reed might get an opportunity to play behind the MVP runner-up full-time moving forward.
If the Sixers did want to explore the market for a veteran big man, there are still a handful of names out there. Former Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside is commonly mentioned as a possible backup for Embiid. An Eastern Conference executive recently told Heavy’s NBA insider Sean Deveney that LaMarcus Aldridge is another veteran who could fill that role.
“The Sixers could use him as an emergency option,” the exec told Deveney. “You’re not going to play hm much but he can handle center minutes when Embiid is taking a night off and he gives you a different look, more of a shooter. They want to play their young bigs but you know Joel is going to miss 12 or 15 games, at least, and Aldridge is a decent fill-in. Every team in the East, at the top of the East. needs that one piece, that one big guy to push them over the top. Aldridge could take some of PJ Tucker minutes, though he is obviously not on the same level as a defender. But he can shoot it.”
Aldridge, 37, played in 47 game for the Brooklyn Nets last year and averaged 12.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG.
Sixers Urged to Pursue Veteran Backup Center
Thanks to the flurry of moves Morey made, the Sixers are now in a prime position to make a run at the NBA title. That being said, adding a veteran big man to play behind Embiid might be the move to put them over the top. Guys like Reed and Charles Bassey deserve opportunities, but having playoff experience is crucial for teams looking to contend.
While listing moves every NBA team needs to make to win a title, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley picked signing a backup center for the Sixers.
Philly might consider poking around for a more reliable option behind Embiid. Maybe the franchise is comfortable with Paul Reed, Georges Niang, Charles Bassey and Tucker tag-teaming to fill that role, but a low-maintenance, trustworthy veteran could be helpful to have, especially if (when?) Embiid misses time.
Insider Switches up Sixers Big Man Rotation
With all the different options at his disposal, Doc Rivers is sure to experiment when it comes to his rotations. Before training camp kicks off, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic gave his thoughts on different combinations that could be used throughout the year.
In one instance, he used P.J. Tucker as Joel Embiid’s backup. The veteran forward was utilized as a small-ball center in his Houston days and could allow the Sixers to completely open up the floor in the minutes when Embiid is on the bench.