The NBA playoffs are right around the corner. The brand of basketball slows down and gets more physical, it happens every year. The gauntlet of a tournament is the reason the Philadelphia 76ers have prepared the way they have. NBA Playoff basketball and his experience is the reason veteran forward P.J. Tucker was brought into the fold of the Sixers team. P.J. Tucker is finally living up to his contract because he is providing the services of a do-the-dirty-work player and his three-point shooting has stabilized.
The 6-foot-5, 37-year-old forward is having a modest year when it comes to traditional counting stats. Tucker is averaging 3.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and shooting 41.4 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from the three-point line, and 82.6 percent from the free-throw line in 25.6 minutes per game. His grit and toughness is apparent on the glass. How many 6 foot 5 inches, 37-year-olds are outworking guys in the NBA on the boards? One simple word and movie that highlighted basketball in Philly, hustle.
P.J. Tucker is finally living up to his contract for the 76ers
The former Texas Longhorn is the embodiment of hustle. The greatest medium for this blue-collar skill is for it to translate on the glass. His anticipation and heads-up play are two things that constitute him being a pest rebounding-wise. Tucker slips in between the small creases amongst the trees that are other respective NBA forwards and centers. All he needs to get is get in amongst those guys and Tucker knows he has more than enough elbow grease to get the ball back to his team by any means necessary. Another factor for Tucker’s confidence in his hustle is his 6-foot 11-inch wingspan. On the season, Tucker is averaging 1.3 rebounds on the offensive glass per game.
Tucker’s wingspan and his physically wide stature are two reasons why he has been revered as a versatile defensive player. Tucker has the ability and will defend bigger wing players who are exceptional on the offensive end of the floor. Names like Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, and Jaylen Brown are all players that Tucker can match up with to bother them and take them off of their game. The activity on the defensive end has been ratcheted up through the year and has drawn a line in the sand of the team’s defensive expectations. He has done so by bringing this tireless lunch pail energy that generally results in a positive plus-minus box score for him. Just last week after the blowout in Chicago over the Bulls, coach Doc Rivers had high praise for Tucker’s defensive contributions.
After covering the essence of Tucker’s game, his shooting is another beneficial part of his game. Philadelphia is enjoying one of Tucker’s shooting seasons from behind the arc. His 38.1 percent from trey-point land is his fifth-highest mark for three-point shooting in his tenth NBA season. But it comes with the caveat that he is shooting his third least amount of three-pointers per game. Tucker has been incredible from the right corner, shooting 45.6 percent, and below average from the left corner, shooting 32.8 percent. So it is a little concerning that he sometimes passes up open looks. Conventional wisdom will point to that number of attempts going up because in the playoffs teams can’t afford to give an excess of open shots.
Philadelphia 76ers fans had a general skepticism when P.J. Tucker started out the season slow. Tucker was dealing with some injuries but his physical presence is ever so important to this team. Besides the lowered attempts in three-point shooting, over the course of the entire season, Tucker has finally been living up to his Sixers’ contract.