76ers Should Sign Intriguing Center Prospect Who Just Became Available

Kenneth Lofton Jr. was just waived, and he could be an intriguing free-agent pickup for the 76ers.
Nov 1, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. (6) posts up
Nov 1, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. (6) posts up / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers have the best center in the NBA in Joel Embiid, a capable backup in Paul Reed and an interesting third option in Mo Bamba.

But even a contending roster like Philly's can use some high-upside project players — whether on the end of the bench or a 2-way G League contract.

One such high-upside project just became available this week.

76ers Rumors: Kenneth Lofton Jr. a Free Agent Target?

The Memphis Grizzlies waived Kenneth Lofton Jr. as part of their shuffling to make roster space for the returning Ja Morant, and he's now a free agent. Lofton is one of the most unique prospects we've seen in a while, and they should roll the dice on him.

Lofton's production is undeniable. He dominated the G League in his first season in 2023, being named both First-Team All-G League and G League Rookie of the Year on the back of 20.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks in just 28.6 minutes per game.

Of course, then we reach the reason where a 21-year-old who put up numbers like that is available. And it's the same reason he went undrafted in 2022.

Lofton is 6-foot-6 and listed at 275 pounds. He doesn't have a 3-point shot to space the floor, and at his height he's not a capable rim protector.

That makes him a tricky player to get on the floor. Do you play him at the five? Then say goodbye to any rim protection. Do you play him at the four? Then your center better be a knock-down 3-point shooter.

Even Joel Embiid, shooting 33.3% from 3-point range this season, may not offer enough spacing to make up for Lofton on that end.

But that's why Lofton's a project. This is the guy who has the raw skill to average 20 and 10 in the G League while being massively undersized.

And it wouldn't be totally unprecedented for him to have NBA success — 6-foot-6 Chuck Hayes played 11 NBA seasons as an under-sized center, and he attempted just 14 3-pointers over his entire career. That included one season when he started a full 82 games and attempted literally 0.

Lofton's not that deficient from behind the arc (not that 25.0% is anything to write home about), and that's an area we could see him keep improving. Plenty of centers have gone from having no 3-point game to being more than capable from deep in recent years (notably Jonas Valanciunas and Brook Lopez).

If a guy with Lofton's talent commits to it, who's to say he couldn't add a 3-ball to his game, providing a ton more versatility?

And remember, this would be a cheap low-risk contract. If he works out he could have serious upside, but if he doesn't there's not much lost by just waiving him again.

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