The Sixers have struggled to have a steady backup for their star center Joel Embiid over the years. Two years ago, they inked veteran center Kyle O'Quinn to back Embiid up when Al Horford couldn't do it because he was in the starting lineup.
Then last season, Dwight Howard joined the Sixers on a one-year deal to play the role. After seeing his contract expire and earning an offer from the Los Angeles Lakers on the day free agency opened up, Howard returned to LA, a place he never wanted to leave.
That left the Sixers searching for somebody else to play the role of Embiid's backup. To everybody's surprise, the Sixers landed the two-time All-Star center Andre Drummond. After starring for the Detroit Pistons for eight seasons, Drummond hit a bit of a rough patch in his career as he struggled to carve out a consistent role for himself in Cleveland and Los Angeles.
Now, he's looking to bounce back in Philly. So far, the 28-year-old big man is off to a good start. After offering the Sixers a solid preview of what he brings to the table during the preseason, Drummond had himself a decent debut on Wednesday night as the Sixers faced the New Orleans Pelicans for their regular-season opener.
Embiid, who spent more time spectating from the bench than usual as the Sixers took care of business in the third quarter, raved about his new backup's first performance with the Sixers following the victory on Wednesday.
"He was great," said Embiid after the game. "Just the rebounding. I thought in the first quarter, he got a little bit out of control, he had a few turnovers, but he corrected it in the second half. Whether it was screening to get guys open or moving the ball or rebounding, which is his best attribute."
Drummond was a beast on the boards versus New Orleans. Although he only had the chance to snag two rebounds on offense, he collected 15 defensive rebounds, totaling for 17 on the night. In addition, he blocked two shots and drained two of his four field-goal attempts, and put up six points in under 20 minutes of action.
The start to his Sixers stint was a promising one. Now, Drummond, Embiid, and the 76ers will look to capitalize on their first big win with a game against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at home.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.