At some point or another over the last five years, you may have heard that the Sixers have a problem with their backup center. This was a problem when Brett Brown was here, as Bryan Colangelo left Brown with a damned-if-you-do-dealer’s-choice of names like Trevor Booker, Amir Johnson, and Jonah Bolden. The Collaborative Front office would turn to Boban Marjanović and, notoriously, Greg Monroe, all before getting fed up with hemorrhaging points whenever Joel Embiid sat down and dropped $112M on an aging Al Horford to handle the issue.
Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers have conspired to basically maintain our crummy status quo, shunning promising (in small sample) small-ball arrangements for antiquated traditional (non-switch, non stretch) bigs like Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, and currently Montrezl Harrell. Andre Drummond might have fared well enough in certain matchups, but trading him before the playoffs was the cost of doing business necessary to dump Ben Simmons for MVP Candidate but not ALL-Star James Harden.
Doc has apparently seen enough of Trez — Paul Reed checking in just over two minutes into Harrell's first shift.— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) February 2, 2023
If developing Paul Reed by giving him consistent minutes was a potential fix, Doc Rivers has been unwilling to fully commit, preferring now to lean on a vet he’s won small and lost big with in the past in Harrell. Their lack of creativity here has been a killer.
According to https://t.co/ElSYPqQVMN’s matchup data from last night, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 15 points when Paul Millsap was his primary defender.— Austin Krell (@NBAKrell) March 30, 2022
Millsap registered just under 2 minutes as Giannis’ primary defender.
So the latest report from Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer suggests the Sixers at least know they still have a major problem on their hands.
The Lakers and Jazz stand as two teams interconnected with much of the NBA trade market’s possibilities, plus a quick breakdown of the centers being discussed around the league. Saturday trade deadline notes @YahooSports: https://t.co/XN2QkrYypx— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) February 4, 2023
“Vanderbilt’s name has also appeared amid the trade deadline conversation surrounding reserve big men, most notably with the Philadelphia 76ers, sources told Yahoo Sports. While teams like the Indiana Pacers have viewed the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt as an attractive option at power forward, Vanderbilt has been described by league personnel as a leading target in Philadelphia’s quest to fortify its frontcourt reserves behind Joel Embiid.
The backup center market may end up being the segment of trade-deadline activity that features the most action. In addition, the Sixers, Clippers, Blazers, Nuggets, Nets, Celtics, Raptors and Kings have been mentioned by league executives as holding differing degrees of interest to bolster their center rotations.”
Shams Charania of The Athletic also connected the Portland Trailblazers as a suitor for Vanderbilt.
Western Conference playoff contender emerges as strong suitor for Utah’s Jarred Vanderbilt: pic.twitter.com/WMzNyGEVzS— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 2, 2023
Our Jackson Frank has been banging this drum for some time now as well.
have talked for weeks about jarred vanderbilt being the best deadline target for the sixers.— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) February 4, 2023
he brings secondary rim protection, rebounding, cutting, connective passing and versatile point of attack defense. addresses a ton of their needs. they should aggressively pursue him.
Fischer mentions six other backup fives to keep an eye on as the Feb. 9th NBA Trade Deadline approaches. Two of them are former Sixers, and two of them were recently mentioned as possible targets by Kyle Neubeck of The PhillyVoice.
Give Fischer’s post a read and see if you’d be smitten with any of those names.
Fischer, a former Liberty Baller and author of “Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports,” also connects a few of those rival teams above with San Antonio Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl, who the Sixers just faced on Friday night.
Hopefully, Daryl Morey and Elton Brand can strike a deal acquiring their preferred target while other teams hunt for what they hope will be bigger fish. Because if a Poeltl suitor misses out on the Vienna native, they may turn their attention to Vanderbilt; and those teams will likely possess more assets to splash around with than the Sixers.
Our Paul Hudrick recently took a look at “The Vandolorian” in his recent post “6 backup centers Sixers should consider ahead of the trade deadline”:
“Vanderbilt is a monster on the offensive glass. For his career, he’s averaged over five offensive rebounds (and over 15 total boards) per 100 possessions. He is a loose ball magnet because of his blend of athleticism, length, tenacity, and instincts. Though it’s far from a strength he’s also incorporated the three ball into his offensive mix (34.5 percent on 1.1 attempts).
Again, Vanderbilt is not a traditional big, but that could work in the Sixers’ favor. As a combo big, he could play the five where he can be a screener and roller for Harden and allow the Sixers to deploy a switch-heavy unit. If Georges Niang falters on the defensive end, you could slide Vanderbilt in next to Embiid at the four (Vanderbilt spent most of the last two seasons playing next to Karl-Anthony Towns). He’s the perfect type of role player to complement star talent.
The Sixers’ bench could use more length and athleticism. There is no shortage of that with the Vandolorian.”
A couple of the other names Hudrick recommends are mentioned in Fischer’s piece linked above.
There will be competition here.
Recently we learned from Hoops Hype that Utah was seeking “the equivalent of a first round pick” for their 23-year-old combo big. The Sixers have the Charlotte Hornets’ second-round pick, which figures to be in the early 30s of this coming NBA Draft.
On a recent episode of “Talking about Podcast” our Sean Kennedy made the excellent point that some teams might even prefer pick 32 to say pick 29 because second-round talent tends to come cheaper salary-wise than first. Don’t miss Kennedy’s full thoughts on that topic.
The Sixers also have Matisse Thybulle, Georges Niang, Shake Milton, and Jaden Springer to offer who might fit that bill; although they may be loath to part with at least a couple of the first three names there for a player who may not be logging big minutes in his first year with the team. Still, Vanderbilt is inked for $4.3M this year and $4.6M next year, so the former Kentucky Wildcat is eminently affordable for a team preparing to back up the brinks for Tyrese Maxey and James Harden in the offseason.
The Sixers could really use a backup big that can catch lobs from James Harden too.