Philadelphia 76ers: P.J. Tucker’s sizzle matches the smoke

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Welp, it’s official: P.J. Tucker is a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.

While this may not be the most exciting news of the day, that would be Kevin Durant requesting the trade from the Brooklyn Nets and may not even be news news, period, as the writing has been on the wall for weeks, Tucker is officially a member of the team, having signed a three-year, $33.2 million deal according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Finally reunited with James Harden, Daryl Morey, and Danuel House, who also signed with the team via the BAE (more on that here), the Rockets East are coming together nicely with a winning core of complementary players.

No matter how you slice it, unless you actually thought a Kevin Durant trade was forthcoming, the final day of June was a massive win for the Philadelphia 76ers. They got tougher, switchier, and even picked off a former G-League MVP in Trevelin Queen, who may or may not ultimately make the team. But soon, the team will have to turn their attention to finding the best roles for each of their new (role) players. Fortunately, as long as James Harden re-signs without a hitch, that shouldn’t be a problem.

P.J. Tucker makes life easier for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Over the past five years, P.J. Tucker held one of the most dubious distinctions in all of basketball: the NBA’s shortest center. Measuring in at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, Tucker is built more like a heavyweight boxer than an NBA forward, and yet, when he’s down on the block, he puts that size to good use.

Was Tucker an elite scorer, let alone rebounder in the painted area against legit 7-footers? Hardly, but hey, he largely made up for it as a switching defender capable of draining 3s on the wing and clogging up lanes both on and off the ball.

Why, you may ask, is this relevant? Are the Sixers going to start Tucker over Joel Embiid, let alone serve as his primary backup for something like 16-20 minutes per game? No, but it does showcase just how versatile Tucker is as a frontcourt player and how easy it will be for Doc Rivers to incorporate him into his offense.

Unless something radically changes, the Sixers are likely going to start Tucker at one of their forward spots, either small or power, next to Tobias Harris. Yes, they are both technically power forwards, yes that is a small frontcourt, I’m not disputing any of that; all I’m saying is that’s probably what the team is going to do – think Trevor Ariza and Tucker in Houston – and if the team composes their rotation correctly, it won’t particularly matter who is technically playing what position.

No, where things get interesting is when the team decides to start cycling in reserve players, and Tucker is given a chance to play alongside other 3-and-D players like De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House.

Whether tasked with playing next to Harden or Embiid, Tucker is a legit 3-and-D performer who maybe isn’t the fastest guy on the block but makes up for it with a basketball IQ that is among the best the NBA has to offer right now. He can switch onto any other player 1-5 without becoming a clear target for an opposing offense and won’t start to dribble around the free throw line before kicking the ball out to a quick trigger wing with a few seconds left on the clock.

No, Tucker is the guy waiting for that open 3 and won’t hesitate to either take it or pass it without having to log a single dribble. After going all out on the defensive end of the court, the 37-year-old can basically take a break on offense and wait to get his like a savvy fisherman waiting for an opportunity to come to him.

Next. Danuel House is finally in the… house. dark

Though it isn’t particularly surprising, as, again, it was very well televised, that doesn’t make the addition of P.J. Tucker any less exciting. With a 3-and-D game, a bulldog’s mentality, and the best sneaker game in the NBA, Philadelphia 76ers fans are about to welcome a very popular player indeed.