Sixers: Projecting the 2022-23 starting five and bench unit

James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Sixers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Sixers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
8 of 10
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Sixers Swiss Army Man: P.J. Tucker

There’s a good chance P.J. Tucker replaces Thybulle in the starting five. He could also just as easily be labeled the sixth man, as he’s probably the “best” player in the second unit. Philadelphia paid him handsomely and he figures to stick around for possibly the rest of his career.

All that being said, the Sixers didn’t really sign Tucker for the regular season. His leadership skills and toughness will no doubt help over the course of 82 games, but Tucker is a 16-game player at heart — and the Sixers need his stalwart defensive presence most when the playoffs roll around. Tucker is 37 years old and just signed a three-year contract, so starting him and playing him heavy minutes on a regular basis could backfire.

Tucker should operate more as the Sixers’ Swiss Army Man off the bench. He can slide up and play the three next to Embiid and Harris, or he can operate as the backup center. His offensive game is simple and efficient. He has mastered the corner 3 and he should get plenty of open looks on the receiving end of passes from Embiid and Harden.

On defense, Tucker’s versatility and staunch point of attack presence are by far his most appealing attributes for Philadelphia. The Sixers just haven’t been able to stop teams on the perimeter enough during the Embiid era. With Thybulle’s future in doubt and Ben Simmons no longer around, Tucker’s size and toughness on elite wings and forwards will vastly improve the Sixers’ defense around Embiid.