Sixers no longer have hole at backup center

Paul Reed, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Paul Reed, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Sixers no longer have to worry about the backup center position. Not in free agency, not on the trade market, not anywhere. Greg Monroe and Amir Johnson are in the past. Al Horford isn’t walking through that door. The Sixers have two legitimate backup centers “of the future” in Paul Reed and Charles Bassey.

It’s a strange feeling. It’s liberating. We have spent many a year at this site pondering about how the Sixers can solve the backup center problem. Will the Sixers ever get a decent backup center without paying Al Horford $100 million? What if Kyle O’Quinn had gotten real minutes? Tony Bradley was cool… Why couldn’t they keep Andre Drummond?

That’s all over. It’s done. Paul Reed is the answer, and if there’s ever a player to take over Reed’s mantle, it’s probably Bassey. And if Bassey does eventually succeed Reed in the rotation, the Sixers could very well justify playing Reed next to Joel Embiid.

The Sixers don’t have to worry about backup center anymore

A lot of articles have pontificated about potential free agent centers the Sixers could sign in the offseason, and I get it — we’re so used to monitoring the fringes of the free agent center market like starved travelers in search of water in the desert. But we don’t need to do that anymore!

The Sixers shouldn’t bring back Andre Drummond, or make some strong push for Serge Ibaka. Why shove Paul Reed back into the recesses of Philly’s developmental program when he’s ready now? He fouls too much, sure, but you solve that with NBA reps. A full season of trial and error — of allowing him to build good habits and a more disciplined approach — is how you get Paul Reed to take the next step. Not by making him watch Andre Drummond again.

Reed has already proven that he can contribute on the biggest stage too. The Sixers are literally winning the Paul Reed minutes this postseason. He’s not passably mediocre, or not bad enough to completely tank the Sixers. He’s helping the Sixers extend leads with Joel Embiid on the bench. That has never happened. And, let’s take it a step further — it probably wouldn’t be happening with Drummond in Reed’s place. Go back and watch the Brooklyn-Boston tape. It’s pretty rough.

The Sixers have one of the most uniquely disruptive big man defenders in the NBA behind Joel Embiid. That should elate the fanbase, the coaching staff, and everyone in the front office. Reed’s propensity for mucking up the game and making his impact felt on the defensive end is genuinely uncommon for young centers. He has to get the fouling in check, but that will happen over time. He’s only 22 years old.

It would be a genuine waste of roster space to go hunting for veteran centers in free agency. The Sixers should let DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap ride off into the sunset and then pursue athletic wing defenders who can hit 3s. Paul Reed can handle the backup center minutes from hereon out — and Charles Bassey has looked mighty promising in his own limited NBA exposure. Those are the two backup centers you need.

There is no better indicator of Paul Reed’s talent than the fact that Doc Rivers has actually committed to him as Embiid’s postseason backup. It took Rivers too long to get on the bandwagon, and he can downplay the “victory tour” all he wants, but notorious hater of young people Doc Rivers is playing Paul Reed in the NBA playoffs. He’s here to stay.

So, unplug the trade machine, stop bookmarking 47-year-old free agent centers, and live in the moment. It’s Paul Reed’s time, baby, and we’re living large.

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