It was clear that after the Philadelphia 76ers’ second-round exit in last year’s playoffs at the hands of the Miami Heat, more moves needed to be made to take this team over the top.
Sixers star Joel Embiid had an MVP-worthy campaign. Tyrese Maxey had his breakout season. James Harden was brought into the mix on the trade deadline, giving the team a much-needed go-to scoring option to pair alongside Embiid, which can also facilitate. Although this seemed promising enough to go all the way, some pieces of the puzzle had to be filled.
A busy offseason for the organization led to Philadelphia bringing in players like former Sixth Man of the Year winner Montrezl Harrell, sharpshooter Danuel House, and veteran PJ Tucker. The acquisition of Tucker reunites him with Harden. The two had a lethal on-court connection back on the Houston Rockets, where they played four seasons together.
The grit that Tucker provides is something that every team needs. He will harass you on defense. He can stretch the floor. He will even trash-talk you the whole game. Since leaving the Rockets, the veteran played a crucial role for the Milwaukee Bucks on their way to winning a championship in 2021 and the Miami Heat last season when they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals as the first seed.
On Media Day, Embiid declared Tucker as one of the X-Factors for the Heat in their series against Philadelphia in last year’s playoffs.
“Obviously, playing against PJ, I thought if you don’t wanna mention Jimmy (Butler), I thought PJ was one of the X-Factors that really had a big impact for them against us. Obviously, Daryl (Morey) went out and did his job.”
As for Tucker’s former teammate and, of course, current teammate, Harden, believes having the veteran on the team this year is significant.
“I feel like we got the right pieces we need on both ends of the ball to make us a legit contender and be the last team standing,” said Harden during Media Day.