Paul Reed’s stellar ascent: From Sixers backup to a potential starting role

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

This summer, the Utah Jazz threw down the gauntlet, challenging the Philadelphia 76ers to acknowledge Paul Reed’s escalating value in tangible terms. Coming off his status as a former second-round pick, Reed entered the free agency spotlight and secured a tantalizing three-year contract worth over $23 million. Given the Sixers’ recent moves – the signing of Mo Bamba, the re-commitment to Montrezl Harrell, and the buzz about introducing European star Filip Petrusev – the NBA community was almost certain of Reed’s imminent shift to Utah.

Yet, in an unexpected twist, the Sixers responded to the Jazz’s challenge, ensuring Reed’s allegiance for the 2023-2024 NBA season and potentially beyond. This significant vote of confidence comes on the back of Reed’s commendable third season with the team. Although he began the 2022-2023 season overshadowed by Joel Embiid, Reed’s consistent performance saw him conclude the season as a vital backup. In a breakdown of his contribution, Reed held the backup center position for a commendable 67 games last year. His on-court statistics speak volumes: an average of four points and four blocks in 11-minute intervals. His playoff performance further accentuated his prowess; in 11 games, he not only replaced Embiid in two but also averaged five points and six rebounds in 14 minutes.

Can Paul Reed be a starter on the Sixers this season?

As Reed gears up for his fourth season with the Sixers, conventional wisdom might place him behind Embiid. Yet, according to a scoop from The Athletic’s Law Murray, Reed aspires to claim the starting power forward position, aiming to complement the MVP-caliber skills of Embiid in 2023-2024. Murray’s report revealed, “In a recent conversation, Paul Reed expressed ambitions to pivot to the power forward position, seeking the limelight of a starting role, especially after Philadelphia’s counter to Utah’s offer.”

The spotlight now falls on PJ Tucker, Philadelphia’s existing power forward, whose role might be in flux due to Reed’s ambition. Despite Tucker’s impeccable track record last season – a standout performance in 75 games and an impressive three-year deal following his Miami Heat stint – questions arise about his role in the upcoming season, especially given his strong alliance with the former head coach, Doc Rivers. Now, with Nick Nurse at the helm, Tucker’s future role remains intriguingly poised. Yet, amidst this dynamic landscape, one element remains steadfast: Reed’s ambition. Even as he is currently perceived as the best fit for Embiid’s backup, Reed’s recent statements underscore his flexibility and desire for a more versatile role. The ball, it seems, is firmly in Nurse’s court, and all eyes are on the play he’ll call.