Dewayne Dedmon exemplifies 76ers’ consistent failure on the margins

Dewayne Dedmon, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Dewayne Dedmon, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers made the Dewayne Dedmon signing official on Tuesday, the 33-year-old taking over the 15th and final available roster spot ahead of the playoffs. Dedmon spent the last 2.5 years with Miami, where he received consistent minutes in relief of Bam Adebayo.

That said, Dedmon’s productivity has taken a significant downturn in 2022-23 — to the point of virtual unplayability, thus Miami’s decision to part ways. Dedmon now joins the Sixers in part because of the increased financial flexibility created by the Matisse Thybulle-Jalen McDaniels swap.

Dedmon has seen his rim protection abilities sharply decline this season. He’s also shooting below 50 percent from the field for the first time in years. To put it lightly, Dedmon has very little — maybe nothing — left in the tank after roughly a decade of NBA basketball. And the Sixers, long in search of a more “traditional” backup to Joel Embiid, sought him out.

76ers management continues to screw up on the margins

The Sixers have built a legitimate title contender, largely on the combined strength of Joel Embiid and James Harden. You can make a lot of mistakes in terms of roster-building and still contend when you have that foundation — not to mention the burgeoning talent of Tyrese Maxey and the rock-solid backbone of Tobias Harris.

And yet, the Sixers continue to appear one step behind the league’s foremost contenders — primarily Boston and Milwaukee, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference. That’s because they continue to make unforced errors on the margins.

Individually, the stray mistake with the 13th, 14th, or 15th roster spot may seem inconsequential. But, let them multiply and build on one another over time, and the problem becomes unavoidable.

Why did the Sixers have an open roster spot to acquire Dedmon? Because, in order to maintain “flexibility” and to save money over the summer, Philly decided to waive both Charles Bassey and Isaiah Joe.

Now, Bassey has a shiny new four-year contract with San Antonio and looks very much like an NBA player. Joe, meanwhile, is literally leading the NBA in 3-point percentage (45.4) on some of the highest per-minute volume in the league. He’s what every Sixer fan imagined he could be out of Arkansas, the exact kind of fearless movement shooter who has long thrived next to Embiid.

The Sixers let two promising young players go in the name of roster flexibility, primarily because their coach showed no interest in properly developing them. Now the result is an over-the-hill center with very little hope of actually contributing in a positive manner when the playoffs roll around. And, if Dedmon does get minutes, it will come at the expense of another young Sixer — Paul Reed, who’s in the final year of his rookie contract.

The roster situation was remarkably similar last season, when Philadelphia rostered four centers — two of which, DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap, where completely unplayable when rubber met the road. Reed finally took over backup center duties in the postseason out of necessity, but he lost a full season of potential experience and development so the Sixers could get continually bashed in Jordan’s 10 minutes per game.

Philadelphia’s scouting department regularly yields positive results on draft night. Joe, Bassey, Reed, Shake Milton — those are great second-round picks. All four are clear NBA talents, and yet Milton is the only one who has broken through into any kind of consistent role. Tyrese Maxey at No. 21 might have saved the Sixers from disaster post-Ben Simmons. Generally speaking, Morey has won almost every trade he has ever made since arriving in Philly. And — despite the myriad positives stemming from Philadelphia’s front office — it’s hard to ignore the stream of unforced, completely preventable errors.

Why pay Furkan Korkmaz three years and $15 million when you’ve invested a full-time NBA contract in Isaiah Joe? Why ride Jordan into the ground when Paul Reed and Charles Bassey are right there, showing promise any time they luck into minutes? Why, after Paul Reed proves himself in the postseason, are you investing in notoriously poor postseason performer Montrezl Harrell, who Doc Rivers unsurprisingly displayed complete devotion in for half a season?

A lot of blame lies on Morey. A lot (maybe even more) of the blame lies on Doc Rivers for not making any effort to play or develop young talent. We can even point fingers at ownership, who should probably be less concerned with pinching pennies if the Sixers want to be the best of the best.

The Sixers have let multiple quality players slip away for nothing, often for the express purpose of replacing them with older, much worse players. However you slice it, it’s a bad look — and it will be hard to ignore if Philly falls short again.