De’Anthony Melton is putting up some career highs across the board for the Philadelphia 76ers this season. His averages of 11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.9 steals a game are the best he’s put up as an NBA player this season. He’s played so well that Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer was asked if his play would lead to the Sixers starting him over PJ Tucker.
Pompey explained why he doesn’t think the Sixers would make that change and why such a change would not sit well with Tucker.
“I don’t see it happening,” Pompey said. “That would likely kill Tucker. The forward probably joined the Sixers with the understanding that he was going to start. You can always play Tucker less and Melton more in regards to minutes during the game. But I think you might lose Tucker by taking him out of the starting lineup.”
Pompey then delved into Tucker’s impact on the game, even if it doesn’t show up statistically.
“He does a lot of things that don’t show up on the box score. He’s like a general out there. He doesn’t need the ball to be effective. Tucker is happy just doing his role. And he brings physicality to the Sixers.”
Tucker is averaging 3.3 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from three.
Pompey Explains Why Tucker Should Start
Pompey said that while Melton may be better as a player than Tucker, he explained why the latter is a better fit with the starters.
“Melton may be a better overall basketball player at this stage of their careers, but Tucker is a better fit to start alongside offensive-minded players in Embiid, Harden, Maxey, and Harris,” Pompey said.
Pompey added that starting Melton over Tucker could happen but later illustrated how Tucker’s intangibles would help the Sixers more by referencing former Sixers’ power forward Marc Iavoroni, who started over Bobby Jones when the Sixers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to win the title in 1983.
“Could it happen? Sure. But you would lose a lot of his intangibles if they did that,” Pompey said. “People forget about Marc Iavoroni being the starting power forward on the Sixers’ 1983 NBA championship team. He averaged 5.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 20.2 minutes while starting over Hall of Famer Bobby Jones, who averaged 9.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 23.6 minutes.”
Tucker has started in all 39 games he’s played with the Sixers this season.
Tucker’s Thoughts on His Role With Sixers
In an interview with Ky Carlin of SixersWire, Tucker talked about his role with the Sixers. More specifically, how small his role is on the offensive end.
“If you look, I take maybe one or two shots per game. I don’t even shoot the ball a lot. So I don’t know how they want me to score a bunch of points if I don’t get the chance to shoot the ball, but to me, it’s definitely not about that,” Tucker said.
Tucker made it clear that the Sixers’ primary focus as a team is winning above all else.
“The way we play, our style, some nights, you might get a few, some nights, you might not, but we based our group around Joel, around our defense. Everybody else is filling their spots and doing their job, so it’s all about winning, man. Bringing that effort and energy every night and doing everything to get a win.”
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