Grading 76ers' Early Moves in NBA Free Agency

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVJuly 7, 2022

Grading 76ers' Early Moves in NBA Free Agency

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    Following their fourth second-round exit in five years, the Philadelphia 76ers continue trying to complete their NBA championship puzzle.

    Their hopes are mostly tied to a healthy Joel Embiid, a hopefully rejuvenated James Harden and an ascending Tyrese Maxey, but they've tried to better their odds with a few free-agency signings.

    While the big deal—Harden's next contract—hasn't come together yet, let's review the three Philadelphia moves that have been completed.

Picking Up P.J. Tucker

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    Why did the Sixers decide that P.J. Tucker should be their priority pickup? Well, we'll let Embiid explain.

    "Since I've been here, I'd be lying if I said we had those type of guys," Embiid told reporters. "Nothing against what we have—it's just the truth. We never have P.J. Tucker."

    Embiid was referring to toughness and a defensive mindset, and Tucker supplies both in large quantities. Even at 37 years old, Tucker can still pester the league's premier scorers, and the fact that he basically pings between the 4 and 5 spots as a 6'5", 245-pounder says everything you need to know about his toughness.

    He also cooks from the corners on stand-still threes (career-high 41.5 percent), though that's essentially the extent of his offensive value. The defense and spacing are enough to justify his value, but the only gripe here is giving him a fully guaranteed three-year, $33.2 million deal. Will he still offer the same impact in another year or two? If he helps bring a title to town before then, the Sixers won't be complaining either way.

    Grade: B

Landing Danuel House Jr.

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    Perhaps Sixers president Daryl Morey was feeling a touch nostalgic this summer. Both Tucker and Danuel House Jr. played alongside Harden in Houston when Morey was calling the shots in Space City.

    House plateaued there for a bit, but his late season move to Utah helped him find his footing.

    Over 25 games with the Jazz, he was back to being his three-and-D best. He not only splashed 41.5 percent of his long-range looks, he also tallied 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks per 36 minutes.

    House's low-maintenance, high-energy game is perfectly suited to support a star. If he's a plus shooter from three (he was pretty average the previous two seasons), he could be a real find.

    Grade: A-

Signing Trevelin Queen

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    Trevelin Queen had a campaign for the ages last season. If you don't notice it, that's because it took place in the G League.

    There, Queen was a certified star. He was an All-NBA G League and All-Defense selection. He paced the league in steals (3.4) and ranked fifth in scoring (25.3). He was named MVP, then upped the ante by taking home the Finals MVP, too.

    What does that mean for Queen's NBA outlook? Not a ton. The list of G League MVP winners isn't exactly littered with household names, though Sixers fans will surely recognize the 2020-21 winner, Paul Reed.

    Shooting will be a swing skill for Queen (he shot 33.5 percent from three last season, although he launched them at a high volume), but if he hits enough to find the floor, he can inject the wing rotation with defensive activity and transition buckets. The reward probably won't be great, but the cost is minimal (his two-year deal is only partially guaranteed for the first season), so it's hard to have any gripes.

    Grade: B-

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