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Rotation Trust Level: Do the Sixers need another center?

Paul Reed has filled in admirably when Joel Embiid has been out, but is there enough depth at the center position for the Sixers?

Philadelphia 76ers Blue & White Scrimmage Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Sixers split their most recent stretch of games without Joel Embiid. They went 2-2 over a roadtrip with wins over the young and scrappy Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets, and losses to the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls behind poor shooting displays.

Barring a major injury, that is the blueprint for the occasional games the Sixers will be without Embiid this year. They are on pace for plenty of wins with the big fella in the lineup, they just need to survive the few games he isn’t.

This edition of the rotation trust level will look at the center options beyond Embiid to determine if they have enough reinforcements, or if the Sixers should add a big man to their trade deadline wishlist.

Marcus Morris Sr.

Cleaning the Glass has only registered three possessions for Morris at center, but there’s been a slightly bigger sample of him as a small-ball five this season. Three of the four games he’s started this year have technically been as a center.

His shooting has provided some semblance of a stretch five. There was no bigger display of this than the four-point play he hit in Houston which ended up being the dagger against the Rockets.

The problem with Morris is that he has to shoot an elite clip to hide his inability to stick on the defensive end of the floor. His three-point percentage has only dropped to 47% and it still feels like his cold stretches kill this team.

With Embiid in the lineup it's a lot easier to hide Morris on that end. Embiid makes up for so many shortcomings with what he can alter at the rim. If the Sixers want a small-ball option, Morris can help them play five out, but lineups with him at the five have yet to prove they can hang on defense for any stretch of a game.

Morris’ defensive metrics this year don’t look terrible, but the concerns are real. The biggest indicator is how often the Sixers defensive foul with him on the floor. It’s currently 5% of defensive possessions, which is in the 6th percentile for the whole league, per Cleaning the Glass.

The biggest sign of someone not being able to keep guys in front of him is turning into a foul machine. That’s happening to Morris.


How much trust do you have in Marcus Morris Sr.?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    A lot
    (216 votes)
  • 54%
    (825 votes)
  • 30%
    Little to none
    (466 votes)
1507 votes total Vote Now

Mo Bamba

After a solid couple of games thanks to hot three-point shooting, Bamba has appeared to turn back into a pumpkin. This hit a breaking point in last Saturday’s loss to the Bulls when Bamba couldn’t secure a defensive rebound over the 6-foot-5 Terry Taylor.

Pretty much all of Bamba’s value has come from the fact that he is a stretch-five. He’s still at 61.5% from deep, but he even stopped doing that in the last week. Despite the high percentage, he’s only taken 13 attempts all year, and hasn’t taken any since his 3-of-3 night in Miami on Christmas.

If Bamba is going to continue to not take threes and get out-rebounded by guard-sized players, the Sixers are going to have to add another center to this roster.


How much trust do you have in Mo Bamba?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    A lot
    (118 votes)
  • 44%
    (529 votes)
  • 45%
    Little to none
    (545 votes)
1192 votes total Vote Now

Robert Covington

It’s surpassing that Morris has been the one to get the bulk of the small-ball lineups, because Covington has a lot more experience at it. In Portland, he was tasked with guarding Nikola Jokic at times during a playoff series.

Covington hasn’t been used that way yet — in fact he’s hardly been used at all. On top of missing a couple of games here and there with a lingering knee problem, Covington will also pick up a DNP-CD once every week or so.

When he does play, his minutes are not consistent at all. Sometimes he doesn’t return for his second half shift without any sort of monumental screw-up in the first half. This continues to be a bit puzzling as Covington is still amongst the league leaders in generating steals and deflections.

What really stands out about the rotation is that Morris, who seems to be the worst defender of the bunch, is the only guy whose minutes won’t change. Whether it’s Covington, Jaden Springer or Danuel House Jr., Nick Nurse isn’t afraid to shake things up if he feels he isn’t getting enough out of those guys.

But Morris on the other hand, checks into the game at his same spot every game.


How much trust do you have in Robert Covington?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    A lot
    (855 votes)
  • 24%
    (287 votes)
  • 3%
    Little to none
    (44 votes)
1186 votes total Vote Now

Paul Reed

Reed had a solid week, starting the whole road trip in place of Embiid. He averaged 9.3 points along with 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks in 25 minutes a game over that stretch. He did struggle in extended minutes to keep the Bulls off the glass, though the whole team struggled with dead legs that night.

Even Reed has been subject to a second-half benching when he’s really struggled, though with the recent play of Bamba he probably doesn’t have to worry about that anytime soon. This certainly isn’t a playoff problem. This team obviously isn’t going anywhere without Embiid in the lineup. Though it certainly seems worth looking for another big to backup Reed if they have to get through another 7-10 games without the big fella in the lineup.


How much trust do you have in Paul Reed?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    A lot
    (1066 votes)
  • 41%
    (902 votes)
  • 9%
    Little to none
    (201 votes)
2169 votes total Vote Now

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