5 Options for Sixers to Replace Andre Drummond

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By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The Philadelphia 76ers sent Andre Drummond to the Brooklyn Nets as part of the trade acquiring James Harden, leaving a big hole to fill at backup center.

Backup center has been an area of concern for the Sixers through much of the Joel Embiid era. Remember the days of Greg Monroe, Kyle O'Quinn, Norvel Pelle and many others? The gaping hole behind Embiid arguably cost the Sixers the Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Toronto Raptors back in 2018-19.

Drummond was by far the best backup Embiid has had in his career. In 18.4 minutes per contest this season, Drummond averaged 6.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.9 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.

How will the Sixers choose to replace Drummond in the rotation? They have a mixture of players already on the roster and buyout candidates they could sign to fill the backup center hole on the roster. Here are five potential replacements for Drummond:

Paul Millsap

The Sixers, in addition to Harden, also acquired Paul Millsap in that blockbuster deal before the trade deadline. Millsap had a small role on the Nets this season and was having a down year, averaging 3.4 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 37.6 percent from the field in 11.3 minutes per game. One of the reasons he wanted out of Brooklyn was because he wanted to play more minutes. He had not played in a game since Dec. 27 as the Nets were working to find a way to trade him away.

Millsap is still capable of producing well in a more sizable role. He played 24.3 minutes per game in 177 games between the 2018-19 season and 2020-21 season. During that time, he averaged 11.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

He has the ability to play both power forward and center, but the Sixers are planning on using him as a center, according to head coach Doc Rivers.

"We can use him," Rivers said after Friday's win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. "We want to see him. I told him on the phone, if we use him, it’ll be at the 5 because I think that’s where he’s at and I just think a vet, high, high, high character guy is never bad to put in your locker room."

One of the things Millsap can bring to the Sixers is his veteran leadership. He is a 16-year veteran and a four-time All-Star. Obviously he is not the same player he once was, but he can still bring his leadership and ability to stretch the floor in a pinch (he has shot 34.6 percent from three-point range on 2.7 attempts per game since the 2013-14 season).

Paul Reed/Charles Bassey

The Sixers could choose to go the developmental route and replace Drummond with the combination of Paul Reed and Charles Bassey. Both players are incredibly raw but have shown potential to be impactful players in a limited role.

We saw the full Reed experience in the win over the Thunder. He was incredibly active defensively, recording two blocks and two steals, and rebounded the ball well. However, he also botched a fancy reverse dunk on a fast break and then committed a foul immediately afterwards. He finished the game with six points and seven rebounds in just 13 minutes of action.

Bassey has also shown at multiple times throughout the season that he can use his athletic ability to play solid defense and catch alley-oops at the rim. He is averaging 2.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 7.3 minutes per game this season. Playing with Harden, who excels at playing with rim-running centers, should be a great help for a player like Bassey.

However, the Sixers have championship aspirations this season, especially after trading for Harden at the deadline. It would be an unnecessary risk for the Sixers to go the developmental route at backup center when they should be able to add a veteran backup through the buyout market.

Robin Lopez

Lopez would be an excellent addition if he gets bought out of his contract with the Orlando Magic. The Magic, who are 13-44 this season, could look to cut ties with the veteran big man. Orlando also has two younger big men in Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba, meaning it would make sense for them to buy out Lopez because he does not play a big role for them.

He would provide more of a scoring touch than anything else, averaging 8.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game for the Magic this season. He would be a great fit for the Sixers as someone with veteran experience who is capable both of coming off the bench or starting in a pinch on nights when Embiid gets rested.

Tristan Thompson

Thompson was included in the big trade between the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers that resulted in Tyrese Haliburton going to the Pacers and Domantas Sabonis going to the Kings. He could be a buy-out candidate for Indiana considering they have a plethora of younger big men on their roster.

Thompson, in 15.2 minutes per game for the Kings before the trade this season, averaged 6.2 points and 5.4 rebounds. He is averaging 9.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for his career and could be a solid backup center addition for the Sixers.

Derrick Favors

Favors is another case of a veteran on one of the worst teams in basketball this season, potentially making him a perfect buy-out candidate. In 16.8 minutes per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, he is averaging 5.2 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 50.6 percent from the field. He would be able to bring a veteran presence and would be a solid addition to the Sixers' roster as a backup center if he becomes available.

Overall, there are definitely some options for the Sixers to go to to replace Drummond as the team's backup center. Whether it is someone who can bring some veteran leadership to the locker room or younger, more athletic players, the team has multiple paths to being able to adequately fill the minutes when Embiid is off the floor.

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