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Can Paul Reed thrive in what might be a complete role shift?

Paul Reed has been used almost exclusively as a backup five with the Sixers. It appears Nick Nurse has bigger plans for Bball Paul.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Ready or not, another season of 76ers basketball is right around the corner. With that being said, it is once again time for preseason player profiles at Liberty Ballers.

We already looked at the two-way guys and players the team has signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, Filip Petrusev, Furkan Korkmaz, Jaden Springer, Danny Green, Mohamed Bamba, Patrick Beverley and Danuel House, Jr. looking forward to how they could impact the team in the 2023-24 season.

Paul Reed

Age: 24

Contract status: Three-year, $24 million deal; $7.7 million (guaranteed) for 2023-24; $7.7 million (non-guaranteed; fully guaranteed if Sixers advance to second round) for 2024-25; $8.1 million (non-guaranteed; fully guaranteed if Sixers advance to second round) for 2025-26

Paul Reed originally signed an offer sheet with the Utah Jazz as a restricted free agent before the Sixers matched the offer. At approximately $8 million per season, Reed’s deal appears to be very fair value in comparison to other backup bigs around the league. Factor in a potential role change that’ll lead to increased playing time, and it might go down as a steal with time.

Season outlook: Over the past few years, Reed was on the outside looking in on the Sixers’ rotation. This year, however, is entirely different. The Sixers matched a notable offer to keep Reed in a Sixers uniform and they’ll look to get the most out of this investment.

The Sixers roster is absolutely slammed with backup bigs behind Joel Embiid, including Mo Bamba, Filip Petrusev, Azuolas Tubelis, an injured Montrezl Harrell and P.J. Tucker. While the competition is crowded as ever, Paul Reed seems to be the clear, best option amongst this backup group.

Speaking of Bamba, I think we’ll see a decent amount of him, with Reed playing the power forward spot next to him. Between the two, that’s fifteen feet of wingspan — and both have shown they’re capable of doing a little bit of everything on the court. Bamba thrives as a shooter, while Reed is best used around the rim. The fit isn’t perfect, but the two can come together to make some fun, weird lineups.

More importantly, it seems like Nick Nurse is very willing to try much more of Reed as a four alongside Joel Embiid. We rarely saw Doc Rivers experiment with this idea in “normal” circumstances, but the potential of this pairing is higher than what most people think. Look around the league with teams like Memphis, Denver, Milwaukee or Boston — they all have tall frontcourts with a long four that can help defend with length and athleticism. This is what Reed is, and this is what he can provide to the Sixers.

Outside of fouling, the main argument against Reed being a full-time power forward is his (lack of) shooting ability in the NBA. While the results haven’t come at the NBA level, he has shot above 40 percent from three in the G League on healthy volume. Factor this, along with some offseason shooting videos, and we might see Paul Reed growing this part of his game sooner rather than later.

At minimum, Reed will have a featured role as a consistent rotation player. But don’t be shocked if you see a lot more of him than you have in the past, playing an entirely different role.

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