Sixers: Ranking backup center options ahead of playoffs

DeAndre Jordan, James Harden, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
DeAndre Jordan, James Harden, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The backup center spot has once again proven to be a weakness in the Sixers‘ rotation. With Andre Drummond being sent to Brooklyn in the James Harden deal, Doc Rivers has had to adjust on the fly with new talent. First it was Paul Millsap and now, thanks to the buyout market, DeAndre Jordan.

Friday night’s win over Dallas was Jordan’s best game as a Sixer — and, perhaps, the necessary fuel for Rivers and the select few fans who are championing Jordan’s spot in the rotation. If he can return to above-average finishing at the rim, his greatest NBA skill, then Jordan’s sheer size and vertical threat should pair well with James Harden.

For now, Jordan appears to have the backup center minutes locked up. That said, it would certainly not harm the Sixers to explore all their options ahead of the postseason. Here’s how the four backup centers grade out in this writer’s humble opinion.

Ranking the Sixers’ backup centers — 4. Paul Millsap

In seven games with Philadelphia, Paul Millsap has averaged 4.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 10.4 minutes. He shot 45.8 percent from the floor and 28.6 percent from deep, providing versatility that was more theoretical than actual. At 37 years old, it is abundantly clear that Millsap’s career has reached its end. He no longer has the juice necessary to contribute to winning on a regular basis.

Millsap can still play physical defense in the post, but at 6-foot-7 he’s often at a natural disadvantage when playing the five. His basketball I.Q. and general instincts are still sharp — no one can ever accuse Millsap of not processing the game quick enough — but his body simply cannot follow his mind at this point.

A player who once feasted from the middle of the floor offensively, Millsap has lost virtually all utility as an interior scorer. Whether it’s getting a shot blocked or simply coming up short, Millsap’s lack of athletic pop makes him an easy mark for opposing defenders.

Right now, Millsap is probably third in Doc Rivers’ center hierarchy behind Joel Embiid and DeAndre Jordan. He should be dead last.