Frontcourt depth needs to be an offseason priority for Sixers

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For years it seemed as if all of the Sixers’ draft capital was going towards big men. Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel, Jerami Grant, Richaun Holmes, Jahlil Okafor, and Jonah Bolden were all drafted within a span of just five years. The irony of the Sixers’ biggest issue when they finally reach contender status is not having any competent relief for Joel Embiid is … painful.

There’s a lot on the plate for the Sixers’ front office in what will likely be the most important and dramatic offseason in Sixers history. The future of coach Brett Brown is uncertain, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are both free agents after giving up the farm to acquire both of them midseason, JJ Redick could be gone with no one to replace his skillset, and cap space is at a premium. Long story short, the Sixers have a lot to do with little to work with and their GM was on an NBA roster as recent as 2015.

Good luck, EB.

With all of those things to be focused on, searching for a backup center could fall by the wayside but the Raptors series was enough evidence to prove that the current roster makeup will not lead to success. This isn’t to say that bench depth is hugely important to postseason success – I don’t believe having All Stars off the bench is a must, especially if Philly returns to the tournament with four of this year’s starting five.

It’s more about competence.

Boban Marjanovic and Greg Monroe were the definition of incompetent. Boban had no chance from the beginning against a Raptors front-court that focuses on spacing the floor and Greg Monroe is just too old and slow to provide actual value on the court other than one or two solid plays a night.

Plus/minus is a shaky stat out of context but there was nothing misleading about the plus/minus for those two. In Game 1, Boban was a -17 in 10 minutes and in Game 6, he was a -18 in SIX MINUTES. That number seemed unimaginable until 72 hours later when Greg Monroe had an otherworldly -9 in 1:41.

Relying on Joel Embiid, who has been injured for most of his career and came into the series with a bum knee and then got the flu, to log 45 minutes because everything turns to a disaster instantly when he takes a seat is not a recipe for success. He shoulders too much of a load on both sides of the court and at that size and, with not so great conditioning, there’s no situation in which Philly can keep handling Embiid like this.

While getting a big man who can come off the bench for long stretches and have a true impact would be ideal to get Embiid a lot of rest, the cap space issue is going to hurt that dream if Harris and Butler each receive the max. The Sixers will likely have to settle for cheap, but do have a couple of options as far as unrestricted free agents go:

Dewayne Dedmon has had back to back solid years in Atlanta and hits the market this summer. He put up 11 points and 7.5 boards in 25 minutes for the Hawks and likely wont command too much money. He would be a decent value guy who I thought could have helped a contender if bought out earlier in the season so I could definitely see the Sixers in play if the price is right.

Ed Davis could also be a cheap option that provides very efficient rebounding numbers  but there’s reason to be concerned after getting played off the court against the Sixers in round one. Luckily he wouldn’t have to play against Joel Embiid anymore so his physicality and work on the glass could provide decent relief in spurts.

This one is probably a pipe dream, but Brook Lopez will be available this summer and took a pay-cut to play with the Bucks just a season ago. It’s very possible the Bucks bring him back after starting 81 games but if they aren’t interested and he’s just looking for a ring, Philly would fit the mold. Considering he would have to sacrifice money and playing time if he signed with the Sixers, we likely wont be seeing Lopez in blue and red next season.

Other guys available include Javale McGee, Aron Baynes, Robin Lopez, and Boban Marjanovic. McGee had a bizarre bounce back year with the Lakers so who knows what kind of silly contract someone might throw at him. Embiid calls Baynes “man bun” so that would be a wild acquisition. Lopez had a down year off the bench in Chicago and I can’t see him trending up at his age. Finally, our dearest Boban who might be useless in the playoffs but #1 in our hearts. If Harris returns to the Sixers, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Boban take very little money to stay with his best friend.

The Sixers will be in desperation mode and need to enter next year with at least one or two of these guys (along with some draft picks) so they don’t end up with a repeat of this season. Cap space hell could be in full effect but if ownership truly cares about winning a championship, they will need to make sacrifices to have Philly reach their true potential.

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