The Philadelphia 76ers had a shocking exit from the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
After securing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, they were defeated by the young Atlanta Hawks in the second round.
Falling well short of the result a team with championship dreams had expected.
Joel Embiid once again led the way but was far from perfect.
However, he was not nearly as big of an issue as Ben Simmons and his reluctance to shoot.
Or Doc Rivers and his refusal to shorten playoff rotations.
With Simmons’ playoff flop seemingly guaranteeing his exit, the team had big dreams for the offseason.
So far that has not happened.
The 76ers’ big acquisition this offseason has been the signing of big man Andre Drummond.
Free agent C Andre Drummond has agreed to a one-year deal with the 76ers, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 3, 2021
Drummond, a 6-foot-10, 279-pound center, will hope to solidify the backup center position that has so often been an issue during Embiid’s tenure.
Embiid has proven himself as one of the most dominant players in the league.
He is the unquestioned star of the Sixers, but here is what Drummond will be asked to do as the reserve.
Drummond Needs To Stay Ready
With Embiid established as the starter, he is penciled in for around 30 – 32 minutes per night.
That leaves 16 – 18 minutes for the backup to soak up.
Which is what Drummond will be asked to do.
For context, we can take a look at what Dwight Howard averaged last season as Embiid’s backup.
He was the best reserve center Philly has had behind Embiid.
“Superman” averaged 17.3 minutes per game and chipped in averages of seven points, 8.4 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game.
While Howard was the best Philadelphia has had so far, Drummond is more talented.
He will be 28 years old during the season compared to Howard being 35.
Drummond had his role reduced last season but has career averages of 15 points and 12 rebounds per game.
He has led the NBA in rebounding in four seasons and averages 1.5 blocks per game.
Drummond is not an elite defensive player but he can anchor second-team defenses.
Advanced metrics paint him in a positive light because of his quick hands and above-average athleticism for his size.
He makes mental errors which can be one of his downsides.
Drummond is also not a great offensive player but can finish around the basket and is a monster on the offensive glass.
As long as he is not asked to do too much, he can contribute on that end as well.
Essentially, Drummond will be asked to keep the ship afloat while Embiid sits on the bench.
Past reserve centers have been a resounding negative when Joel is not on the court.
If Drummond can provide even average play on both ends off the bench, he will be a solid signing.
What About Simmons?
The main question on nearly everybody’s mind after the Drummond signing was how he and Simmons would coexist.
Sixers GM Darryl Morey originally stated he wanted to sign bigs who could stretch the floor on offense.
Daryl Morey: "With the bigs we bring in, we want to make sure they're either switchable or can shoot."
Morey says he feel good Filip Petrusev and Charles Bassey check those boxes.
— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) July 30, 2021
Obviously, Drummond does not do that.
Andre has made 15 threes in his career on 111 attempts – good for a 14 percent hit rate.
In today’s NBA, any lineup featuring both Simmons and Drummond would be cramped for spacing.
A Ben Simmons and Andre Drummond Pick & Roll might cause a glitch in the matrix.
— Mars (@marsjoint) August 3, 2021
Both players would need to be positioned under the basket to remain effective which would pose massive problems for any offense.
Teams would have at least two players in the paint at all times, restricting driving lanes and walling off the restricted area.
Drummond’s role is clear-cut in that he will play the minutes Embiid sits and will be asked to anchor second-team defenses.
But his signing also signals that Simmons is all but out the door.
Lineups with Drummond and Simmons would more than likely be a net-negative on the offensive end.