Many suggested that the Philadelphia 76ers found the best backup of Joel Embiid's career in Andre Drummond this past offseason. As the veteran big man was a full-time starter for roughly the last ten years, the Sixers were confident that Drummond was going to excel in a backup's role behind one of the NBA's most talented centers.
Drummond did a nice job, but he eventually became trade bait for the Sixers. As the Brooklyn Nets demanded Drummond, Seth Curry, and Ben Simmons for James Harden and Paul Millsap, Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey couldn't pass up the opportunity to miss out on a reunion with Harden.
Now, the Sixers are on the hunt to find their Drummond replacement since there were no follow-up moves to land a backup center when the trade market was still open. Therefore, the Sixers will keep a close eye on the buyout market. And in the meantime, Philly will hold a tryout for Paul Reed to win the spot, as he's been getting some significant playing time over the last couple of games.
Before last Friday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Paul Reed averaged just eight minutes on the court in 21 games. For the most part, Reed's been spending a lot of his time on the Delaware Blue Coats.
But with Drummond out of the picture, Reed averaged 14 minutes over the last couple of games. It's unclear how long the Sixers plan to use Reed as Joel Embiid's backup, but it seems he's making a solid case to keep the job so far.
An Assessment of Paul Reed
"He was great. He really was. I mean, he's had two games in a row where he's just doing his job," said Sixers coach Doc Rivers after Saturday night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. "He runs the floor, he rebounds, and he's a bit of an instigator, you know? Unintentionally, he becomes an instigator with the way that he plays. I love that he's fearless. He's not going to back down from anybody."
When asked about what Reed needs to do to continue thriving on the court in limited minutes when Embiid is off of it, the Sixers' five-time All-Star had a simple suggestion.
“He just needs to do whatever he’s been doing,” Embiid claimed. “He’s been amazing. Just the energy when he’s on the court, whether he’s setting screens, offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, playing with a lot of energy, doing the little stuff. That’s what we need from him when he gets on the floor. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing. That’s gonna help us a lot.”
Rivers and Embiid seem to like what they've seen out of Reed so far, but two solid performances won't secure the G League MVP's spot in Philadelphia's primary rotation moving forward. While Rivers appreciates Reed's contributions with Drummond out so far, he kept it real about the Sixers' intentions on the buyout market.
"[Paul's] not gonna back down from anybody," he continued. "Obviously, they start posting him up and he doesn't have the size to guard some of those guys. So, that's why we're out on the market trying to find one more big for nights like that."
Even if the Sixers land a new prospect via the buyout market and bring in the veteran Paul Millsap to compete against Reed for minutes, the second-year forward remains in a solid position. Since the Sixers have uncertainty at the five with Drummond out of the picture, there are plenty of opportunities for everybody to garner minutes behind Embiid. Right now, Reed is making the most of his.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.