As the Philadelphia 76ers continue to surge ahead in the Eastern Conference, they will undoubtedly be buyers at this season’s NBA trade deadline.
While the entire starting lineup, along with the guard spots on the bench, are seemingly locked down, the Sixers could look for an upgrade at their backup center spot.
The combination of Montrezl Harrell, Paul Reed and PJ Tucker as backups to Joel Embiid has not panned out like some had hoped. Backup center may be the biggest weak spot on the team right now.
Nonetheless, here are three centers that President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey should be targeting by the February 9 trade deadline to solidify the bench’s five spot.
Once a highly-desired prospect with the Texas Longhorns, Bamba’s NBA career hasn’t gone fully according to plan.
With limited playing time over the past few seasons and a crowded frontcourt in Orlando this year, he has become a strong candidate to be shipped out.
Bamba still has a ton of NBA talent and potential — while he may not be a starter, his shot blocking defensively paired with his height and shooting touch makes him a valuable stretch-five.
On top of the skill, Bamba is only 24 years old. There is plenty of time for him to develop into a better player.
Bamba would bring more defense to a 76ers’ backup center spot that lacks it right now, as he is averaging 1.0 block in just 17.1 minutes per game.
The big man’s shooting would be an added bonus, but may also make Bamba more expensive to trade for. He is shooting 39.0% from three, making him one of the few centers than can shoot effectively from the perimeter.
While Bamba’s age and shooting ability may make him cost more, he would be worth it for Philadelphia.
He will most likely be available for the right price, due to Wendell Carter Jr. already owning the starting center spot for the Magic.
While Drummond doesn’t offer the shooting ability that Bamba does, he certainly provides more rebounding and all-around defense.
There are more perks to the Sixers chasing Drummond as well. He was on the team as recently as last season, but was moved to Brooklyn in the James Harden for Ben Simmons swap.
The familiarity with Philadelphia makes it easier to know what Drummond would bring to the team.
On just a one-year deal with the Bulls, the 6-foot-11 center shouldn’t be too expensive, either.
Drummond is a well-known rebounding machine, averaging 6.6 in just 13 minutes per game this season.
Considering Philadelphia has had rebounding issues (they rank 28th in team rebounds per game), Drummond would address a clear weakness.
On top of the rebounding, his rim protection would be incredibly beneficial to a Sixers defense that gets pummeled at the rim when Embiid is out of the game.
Offensively, his game would fit well with James Harden; the point guard has always been known for playing well with a rim-runner at center, like Clint Capela in his Rockets days.
In terms of fit and price, Drummond may be the top fish for Morey to acquire at the trade deadline if the Bulls are willing to sell.
The 76ers will take on the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. While in town, they should check in on the price for Poeltl.
Poeltl, 27, was a lottery pick from the Raptors in 2016, and is in his fifth year in San Antonio. Depending on which direction the team wants to go, he might not be a part of their long-term plans.
The Spurs are 14-36 and have no real aspirations of making a playoff push. It will likely be in their best interest to get draft capital, and maybe some young talent, for Poeltl at the trade deadline.
Poeltl has become a good shot-blocker and is efficient around the rim. While he is probably best fit in a backup role, he has started in all 41 games played this season.
If the 76ers pursued him, he would be an above-average-to-good backup center. His defense would make the biggest impact on the team. As mentioned before, the Sixers are in desperate need of a rim-protecting backup center.
He may not have the shooting of Bamba or the rebounding of Drummond, but Poeltl would be another great option for Philadelphia to target over the coming weeks.
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