One of the bigger concerns for the Philadelphia 76ers this free agency is finding a quality backup center for Joel Embiid.
There’s little doubt that Joel Embiid was the one of the most dominating center and overall players in the NBA this past season. He put up MVP numbers averaging 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Yet the Philadelphia 76ers failed to give him a quality backup last season and that’s something they can’t afford to do this upcoming season.
The backup center position was a revolving door for the Sixers this season. Amir Johnson was the incumbent from the previous season, but he proved that father time caught up with him and was unable to defend at the high level that he use too. He averaged 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds this past season and is set to be a free agent.
Besides playing at the power forward spot, both Jonah Bolden and Mike Muscala saw time at the backup center role. Muscala eventually was trade, but he struggled against more physical centers when he was on the 76ers and Bolden had foul trouble defending that position. For more on both of them, check out my article about three free agent options at the power forward position.
After the trade deadline Boban Marjanovic became the primary backup for the Sixers. The 7-foot-3 center averaged 8.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.5 blocks with the 76ers this season. He was an offensive force for Philly, but struggled defensively. Marjanovic isn’t a long term answer at the position either and is also set to be a free agent.
As part of the Jimmy Butler trade, the Sixers acquired Justin Patton. The young center spent most of the season recovery from injury, but when he did play he only averaged 1.7 points and 2.0 rebounds. He didn’t show the ability to contribute to the rotation immediately, so he was eventually waived in favor of signing veteran center Greg Monroe.
Monroe came in at the tail end of the season and got a lot of garbage minutes, so his averages with the Sixers were a bit inflated. With Philly he averaged 13.7 points and 4.3 rebounds. However, Monroe is an old school center that hasn’t been able to adjust to the modern NBA. He’s a free agent, but doesn’t appear to be a likely option to return.
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