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Top 5 Powerhouse Players Vying for 76ers’ Throne: Who Will Step Up to Fill Joel Embiid’s Shoes?

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The Philadelphia 76ers will have to play without superstar Joel Embiid for a while after he was diagnosed with a displaced flap in his meniscus and subsequently underwent surgery to repair the injury. To partially fill the Embiid-sized hole and bolster their roster for a playoff run, Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the 76ers are looking to add a backup center.

There are a few big men available via trade or free agency whom the team could add to their roster. Here are five names that the 76ers could target before the NBA’s trade deadline is up.

5 centers who could land on 76ers to fill in for Joel Embiid’s absence

#1 PJ Washington (13.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 45.2 FG%)

PJ Washington
PJ Washington

No other big man will come close to Joel Embiid’s points-per-game averages this season. However, if the Philadelphia 76ers want to add a big man who can create for himself offensively, PJ Washington is someone they should target.

Washington is more of an in-betweener than a pure center at 6-foot-7, but he can fill the backup big man role that the 76ers need. He also meets another requirement, which is his availability, as the Charlotte Hornets are reportedly willing to trade him.


#2 Daniel Gafford (10.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 69.5 FG%)

Daniel Gafford
Daniel Gafford

Daniel Gafford is a throwback big who shies away from three-point shots and gets all of his offense in the paint while doing damage on defense. He is also an efficient scorer who gets limited attempts (6.4 FGA) in a perimeter-centric offense with the Washington Wizards.

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Gafford could benefit from a change of scenery, filling in for Joel Embiid while he is recovering and then being his backup when he comes back. At only 25 years old, he fits the bill for a backup big, which the 76ers need now, and could potentially be a core piece for many years to come.


#3 Andre Drummond (7.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 55.3 FG%)

Andre Drummond
Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond‘s offensive game did not evolve to meet the needs of modern NBA offenses, but there is always a place for a backup center who will crash the boards nightly.

Drummond is far from the league-leading rebounder he was with the Detroit Pistons, but his interior presence is still valuable, and the Philadelphia 76ers could use that. He could even start some games for the 76ers while Joel Embiid is recovering, depending on the matchup.


#4 Kelly Olynyk (8.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.3 apg, 42.9 3pt%)

Kelly Olynyk
Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk is another tweener the 76ers can pick up to fill Joel Embiid’s absence. The 32-year-old has been inconsistent with his production from season to season, sometimes averaging over double figures while missing that mark other times.

This year has been a down year for him, but that could change with the 76ers. Olynyk could thrive with a team that has multiple options on offense, especially with Tyrese Maxey being the primary ball-handler.


#5 Serge Ibaka (DNP for 2023-24 season)

Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka

At only 33 years old, it is a surprise that Serge Ibaka has remained a free agent. Ibaka hasn’t produced well in the last few seasons, but if he is given consistent playing time, he could still be an effective backup center. Furthermore, he was a crucial member of the 2019 Toronto Raptors squad that won the championship under Nick Nurse, the 76ers’ current coach.

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Bringing in a veteran who contributed well to a title-winning squad could be the roster move the 76ers need to fill in for Joel Embiid.

 


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