The Philadelphia 76ers have been quick to bolster their guards and forwards during the offseason, with players like De’Anthony Melton, PJ Tucker, and Trevelin Queen being brought in.
One position Daryl Morey and the Sixers’ Front Office have yet to fill is center. Granted the Sixers do have the MVP candidate Joel Embiid to start, but they lack depth behind him.
Morey said earlier in the year that the team wouldn’t spend a lot of money looking for a backup center as there are players within the organization who can play those minutes.
“We’re gonna be opportunistic with a bigger spend in free agency, there will be opportunities to look at minimum spends, but I think the bar will be high on a minimum spend at the backup center spot because we feel like we got some guys who can contribute,” said Morey.
Their internal options got thinner last week as Filip Petrusev signed a deal with KK Crvena Zvezda, a team in Serbia’s basketball association, making it another year that Philadelphia’s second-round pick from the 2021 draft will miss.
The only other natural center Doc Rivers has to use is Charles Bassey, who saw minor minutes last year across his 23 appearances, averaging three points and three rebounds per game.
At best, Bassey may still be a season or so off of seeing regular minutes, even as a backup to Embiid. But the Sixers have another option for their second-string center in former G-League MVP and Rookie of the Year Paul Reed.
Last season, Reed appeared in 38 games, averaging three points and two rebounds, but this doesn’t tell the whole story of the former Blue Demon’s ability.
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There were two games last season which helped expand on Reed’s resume, both of which came against the Detriot Pistons at two different points in the season.
The first game would be Reed’s season-high in rebounds as he managed to grab nine rebounds, which isn’t all too impressive, but he was going neck and neck with Andre Drummond, who finished the game with three more minutes of game time. For reference, Drummond finished the season ranked 22nd in the league for rebounds per game.
The second game, which complements Reed’s ability to handle more than single-digit minutes, was the final game of the season when Rivers rested Embiid, starting DeAndre Jordan over the sophomore forward.
Reed would go on to play two and a half minutes less than Jordan but would come up big, scoring 25 points, 17 more than Jordan, to help end the Sixers’ season with a win. At this point in the season, there was more than enough reason to give Reed the minutes over Jordan, which Rivers didn’t see.
However, with Jordan and Millsap out of the picture, Reed’s time may have come. It wouldn’t come to the surprise of anyone if he does end up taking the backup role, as Morey explained that Rivers was happy to see the production towards the end of the season.
“I know Coach Rivers is very excited with what Paul Reed gave us down the stretch,” explained Morey, “Paul, hopefully, builds on what he did at the end of last year.”
Perhaps one of the only things standing in the way of Reed is his height or lack thereof for a traditional center. Reed stands at 6’9″, which isn’t too far away from conference rivals Mitchell Robinson (7’0″), Kristaps Porzingis (7’3″), and Nic Claxton (6’11”), to name a few .
But this shouldn’t be too big of a determining factor for Rivers to utilize him as he’d only be playing the backup role meaning these players may not be out at the same time.
Declan Harris contributes to All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @DecIanH.
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