There’s no denying that Joel Embiid is one of the top big men in today’s game. However, he hasn’t had good depth behind in the past. In this series of articles reviewing free agent options for the Philadelphia 76ers, it’s time to look at ways to give Embiid a quality backup center for next season.
At the end of last season, Embiid only had Dwight Howard who appears to be an athletic shell of his former self, and power forward Mike Scott who is well past his prime as backups. Even point guard Ben Simmons also relieved Embiid on occasion, but there’s a chance all three won’t be back on the roster next season.
The Sixers did draft two centers in Filip Petrusev and Charles Bassey but neither are expected to play a major role next season, if much at all. This list will be looking up backup and third string options at center.
If the Sixers just want a run-of-the-mill average center in the NBA then look no further than Cody Zeller. When he came into the NBA, he was an elite athlete, but injuries have made him just a solid overall center.
He spent the first eight seasons of his career as a member of the Charlotte Hornets. This past season he averaged 9.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 0.4 blocks. He’s not spectacular in any one area and despite not being a shot blocker, he can hold down a defense.
Zeller can be a starter for a bad team like the Hornets, but he can be a backup for one of the best big men in the NBA. He also made it clear he wants to play for a winner, per his appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN’s podcast named The Woj Pod.
If Zeller truly want to win a title, then backing up Embiid might be one of the best ways he can do it without having the pressure to play big minutes and has a chance to prove he can be healthy. With the additions to Mason Plumlee and Kia Jones, Charlotte is moving on from Zeller and he could have a new home in Philly.
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