Sixers: 3 players who could make or break season

Matisse Thybulle, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Matisse Thybulle, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Sixers’ make or break players: P.J. Tucker

The Sixers signed P.J. Tucker to a lucrative three-year contract, a contract he absolutely deserves after his championship run in Milwaukee and last season’s success with Miami. That said, Tucker is 37 years old. He has a lot of miles on his body, and it’s fair to question how much he can offer the Sixers — and how consistently he can offer it.

On paper, Tucker would make sense as the fifth starter — a Swiss Army Knife defender who can drift in and out of different lineup configurations while providing Embiid and Harden with a sniper in the corner on offense. Tucker has proven himself to be one of the most dominant individual defenders in basketball when he’s locked in, and he’s more than capable of elevating Philadelphia’s postseason ceiling.

With all that said, it’s fair to question if Tucker can (or should) carry the burden of starting minutes over an 82-game regular season. Would it be smarter to bring him off the bench and save him for the playoffs? Is he the backup center spreading the floor for Harden, or is he the Sixers’ primary wing defender? Doc Rivers will have to strike the right balance, and that balance could determine the extent to which Tucker delivers on his pricey contract.

In the end, Tucker should benefit the team immensely. Barring a sudden and precipitous fall-off, he’s too good defensively and too much of a force in the locker room not to bring about positive change. He has built his entire NBA persona around toughness, around going all-out on every possession. The Sixers need some of that dog mentality.