4 players fighting for their future with 76ers

Paul Reed, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Paul Reed, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Is Paul Reed the 76ers’ long-term solution behind Embiid?

Paul Reed has finally emerged as the full-time backup to Joel Embiid, relegating Montrezl Harrell to cheerleading duties. We haven’t seen Dewayne Dedmon yet either, which is promising (if mildly depressing when one considers the roster moves that led to Dedmon’s arrival).

On the last leg of his rookie contract, the former second-round pick should enter a fairly robust free agency market in the summer. Backup centers are a dime a dozen these days, but not many possess Reed’s penchant for disruptive defense and unbridled intensity.

To this point in his career, Reed has been overshadowed by the mega-stardom of Joel Embiid and Doc Rivers’ maddening aversion to young players. But wander far enough into the darkness and you’ll find a legitimately exciting defensive prospect who could quickly work his way into a starting role with the right team.

Reed is genuinely a defensive wizard. Very few bigs can generate turnovers at the rate Reed does. He’s also extremely confident in his own ability. He wakes up for every matchup and he desperately wants to embarrass anyone who dares to challenge him. The 23-year-old has strung together some impressive games against impressive competition lately, including a game against Miami in which he devoured Bam Adebayo.

We have seen Reed survive, even thrive, in the playoffs before. Now he’s primed to get another opportunity behind Embiid on the biggest stage (although P.J. Tucker could steal some of those backup five minutes). If Reed shows out, he might get too expensive for the cash-strapped Sixers. That said, a good stretch run also could cement him — in the eyes of Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers — as the backup of the future behind Embiid, if not more.