76ers projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 season

Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Philadelphia 76ers starting center: Joel Embiid

The reigning MVP will continue to be the sun around which Philadelphia’s offense (and defense) orbits. Nick Nurse has a mixed reputation on the offensive end, but he’s going to clear the way for Embiid to dominate with simple actions. The 7-footer from Cameroon has essentially developed into the NBA’s most potent regular season scorer, capable of leveraging his strength for a constant parade to the foul line while also displaying deft shooting touch at all three levels.

Embiid is verging on matchup proof. Stronger centers generally aren’t fast enough to contain him on the perimeter. Put a smaller big on him and Embiid is guaranteed 15-plus trips to the charity stripe. Bring double or triple teams, and Embiid is better than ever at beating them with a pass (that said, it’s still a definite area of weakness relative to the rest of his remarkable skill set).

He led the NBA in scoring last season with 33.1 points on 65.5 TS%, his second straight season with the league’s top scoring mark. While Embiid doesn’t have the most well-rounded offensive skill set compared to other league MVPs, he’s a workmanlike bucketeer who has shown a willingness to expand his arsenal every year.

Embiid happens to have the talent to perennially compete for Defensive Player of the Year. He may never win the award due to the immense burden of his offensive workload — Embiid takes plenty of defensive possessions at half-speed in the regular season — but there aren’t many rim protectors who provide a more menacing deterrent at the rim. Embiid completely shapes the Sixers’ defense and he should only become more involved with Nurse’s complex, dynamic scheming.

Primary backup center: Paul Reed

Even if he scraps his way to minutes at the four, Reed will still operate as Embiid’s primary backup at the five. The Sixers matched a partially guaranteed three-year, $23 million offer sheet from Utah to keep Reed in-house. He’s capable of blowing that dollar amount out of the water with his impact on the defensive end.

Despite being undersized, Reed has consistently kept the Sixers’ defense at a respectable level when Embiid sits. He has been Philadelphia’s most reliable postseason backup two years running, and there are flashes of offensive skill development to maintain optimism about his ceiling long-term.

Reed is one of the hardest workers in the NBA. He competes with absolute intensity on every possession and he takes a great deal of pride embarrassing his opponent. He will look to steal lunch money or make the poster block whenever possible. On the offensive end, he sometimes needs to reel in his ambitions a little bit more, but he’s a decently skilled finisher around the rim with hints of face-up scoring potential and 3-point shooting.

Other players who could receive minutes at center: P.J. Tucker, Mo Bamba, Montrezl Harrell, Filip Petrusev

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