While Paul Reed and Montrezl Harrell have alternated as the backup center to Joel Embiid, in the future, the Philadelphia 76ers might be better off moving them to the power forward position.
Now that Dewayne Dedmon has been cleared to play, the Sixers now have another legitimate-sized center besides Joel Embiid. This could give coach Doc Rivers added flexibility when it comes to lineups.
So far this season, Rivers has alternated between the 6-foot-9 Paul Reed and 6-foot-7 Montrezl Harrell as Embiid’s backup. There is no real rhyme or reason as to which one would play. If Harrell was doing well, he got the minutes, until he wasn’t, then Reed got his turn, until he had a bad stretch.
As of now, Reed has been the backup, with some good (at Miami) and bad (Boston) results.
But the 76ers really had no alternative to the pair, until the signing of the 7-foot, 240-pound Dedmon on February 14, after he was waived by the San Antonio Spurs.
Dedmon is the biggest player on the team next to Embiid. He can give the Sixers a presence in the middle defensively they do not have unless Embiid is on the floor. But he is also 33-years-old, so how much he has left in the tank will have to be seen. Rivers needs to find out.
Rivers undoubtedly will give him a try now that he can play, after coming to the team with a hip injury.
What to do with Reed and Harrell when Dedmon plays?
When either Reed or Harrell and playing, the other sits. So does that mean both getting splinters on the bench, if Dedmon is trotted out as the backup center?
It does not have to be that way.
Looking at the other top three teams in the Eastern Conference, the 76ers are the only one that does not start two bigs:
Celtics: Robert Williams & Al Horford
Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo & Brook Lopez
Cavaliers: Jarrett Allen & Evan Mobley
If the other top teams in the East can start two big men, no reason the Sixers can’t use a similar lineup when the bench unit comes in.
Basically, Reed or Harrell can play the forward spot while Dedmon is at center.
The benefits of Reed and Harrell moving to power forward for Philadelphia 76ers
It is not like Reed or Harrell can not play forward. In terms of size, that is probably their natural position (Reed weighs only 210 pounds). Here are a few positives about having them move to the ‘4’:
- Harrell’s lack of rim protection is not as big a factor, as that job now falls to Dedmon
- Harrell does well posting up opponents, now, he would have smaller defenders guarding him.
- Reed has shown to be quick enough on his feet to guard 3-4’s and has great length. As was shown against Miami, he can cause problems trying to shoot over him.
- Reed does have some moves off the dribble, which can be used more as a forward. He also can shoot from outside. Forward opens up more opportunities for him on the offensive side.
- Both hit the offensive boards hard (for Sixers that is). Having one of them and Dedmon crash the boards would be a lift to a department the 76ers are woefully inept at normally.
Now, there are some downsides. Guarding in space, and the communication it takes, could be a problem. And Harrell has no outside shot while Reed’s can be inconsistent. Transition defense could also be an issue since both try for offensive rebounds. if the other teams gets the board, could be a fast break.
But in the coming games, with ‘load management’ in the offing for key players during the brutal March schedule, there is no reason not to try it. In the playoffs, in which the 76ers could very well face the Cavs. Bucks and Celtics, having a ‘big’ lineup to employ against them could be needed.