Should the Paul Reed Victory Tour continue for 76ers?

Paul Reed, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Reed, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

While Montrezl Harrell has done well as the backup center for the Philadelphia 76ers as of late,  Paul Reed has shown why he needs to get the nod when the playoffs start.

If you look at stats, Montrezl Harrell has been doing pretty well when he comes into the game for starting center Joel Embiid. However, there is more to a team winning a game than posting nice scoring and rebounding figures.

You might want to go back in history to figure out why this won’t end well, and why the Paul Reed Victory Tour, which Doc Rivers hates, might continue.

When Harrell’s play cost Doc Rivers his job

It might be surprising, seeing how he has struggled this season, that Harrell was named Sixth Man of the Year in 2020, just a few years ago. He averaged 18.6 points a game and gave the Los Angeles Clippers energy and scoring off the bench.

But in the Western Conference semifinals, Denver center Nikola Jokic simply did whatever he wanted when guarded by Harrell. He simply was not big enough to match up with Jokic and his lack of rim protecting skills proved fatal.

As the Clippers did the Doc RIvers usual, blow a 3-1 series lead, the coach continuing to play Harrell, even though he was ineffective, was targeted by critics for the slide.

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Harrell, to his credit, scored 20 points in Game 7 (but was still a minus-8) as the Clippers lost. But in the aftermath, Rivers was given the boot (scooped up immediately by the 76ers) and Harrell went to the Lakers as a free agent (at least he did not have to move).

So, we know what Harrell is like in the playoffs. Even when he was at the top of his game, he still was a negative.

‘BBall Paul’ to the rescue for Philadelphia 76ers?

It is sort of amazing how Harrell’s level of play has really fallen like a rock this season. He is averaging less than double-digits in scoring for the first time since 2017. Just last year, playing for bad Washington and Charlotte teams, he averaged 13.1 points.

Harrell is just 29, so Father Time should not be knocking at his door, yet maybe the wear and tear of his hyper-aggressive game is getting to him. Whatever the reason, even his biggest fan, Rivers, keeps pushing in Paul Reed at times in favor of Harrell.

On January 8 against Detroit (the fairly close first meeting, not the pathetic blowout two days later), Reed had 16 points and 12 rebounds

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Reed, who people forget was the G League MVP a couple of years ago, may not be the scorer Harrell is, but, in terms of defensive rebounding and rim protection, he is a much better option.

You can sort of, kind-off compare Reed to the role Robert Williams has with the Boston Celtics. Not much of a scorer but a rim protector, rebounder who can run the fast break.

Importantly, Reed has shown he can be a capable backup center for the 76ers in the playoffs. After the Andre Drummond trade gave Reed the job by default last season, he performed fine. The bottom did not fall out of the team when he was in the game, which is all they were looking for.

Should the Victory Tour continue?

Paul Reed has proven himself in the playoffs to be a capable backup for the Sixers while Harrell, even when playing a lot better than he is now, was an anchor that plunged the team down. Simply based on past experience, Reed should get the nod come playoff time.

That is not to say Harrell should be mothballed and never seen again. His active brand of basketball is quite effective when not matched up against standout big men, and when the 76ers can get away with no rim protection.

The Sixers want to win as much as possible during the regular season so they can move up the Eastern Conference standings for a good seed. So Harrell can definitely play a role for the Sixers right now, maybe even be ahead of Reed in the rotation (until they get killed inside).

Of course, general manager Daryl Morey could make a move for a backup center by the trade deadline, but if the roster remains unchanged, ‘BBall Paul’ is the obvious way to go in the playoffs.