With the logjam at center looming over the Philadelphia 76ers, is the extensive depth at the position keeping Richaun Holmes out of the rotation for good?
The center position has been the main topic of discussion for Philadelphia 76ers fans this season. With the meteoric rise of Joel Embiid and the Nerlens Noel/Jahlil Okafor debates raging, coverage has been nonstop. With that being said, there’s a fourth guy who no one is talking about — Richaun Holmes.
When you have three exceptional talents at one position, lesser known talents will be left out. Richaun Holmes has been that lesser known talent. For a guy who was drafted in the second round, it’s hard to make it in this league. It’s even harder when you have three top six draft picks ahead of you on the depth chart. Opportunities become limited as a result.
Now, with Joel Embiid playing at a level on par with Wilt Chamberlin, there is no reason to think Holmes would be a starter on the Philadelphia 76ers. But, it’s not outlandish to think that he could be a valiant backup. Obviously, with Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor on the roster, that proposal might be out of reach.
The Sixers understand that Richaun Holmes is talented. He can give you quality minutes off the bench. Ideally, this is the role he plays going forward.
Holmes’ D-League Stints
It’s no question that playing time has been scarce for Richaun Holmes this season. As a result, Holmes has spent some time playing for the Sixers’ D-League affiliate: the Delaware 87ers. This has been a move meant to keep his legs fresh while management tries to resolve the center debacle.
Interestingly enough, Holmes has played more minutes per game for the Sevens than he has for the Sixers. For the Sevens, he’s averaged 24.0 minutes per game. With the Sixers, he’s averaged 16.0 minutes per game. He’s getting more opportunities to show what he can do at the developmental level.
In addition to more minutes, Richaun Holmes is producing better numbers. In his 4 games for the Sevens, Holmes is averaging 8.3 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. At the NBA level, he’s averaging 6.9 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. With that kind of stat sheet, albeit at a lower competition level, it can be argued that Holmes is an ideal backup.
Embiid’s Minutes Restriction
One thing that gets lost in the shuffle here is the fact that Joel Embiid is still on his minutes restriction. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon. If Embiid is going to stay at 28 minutes per game, that opens the floor for the other three centers on the team to make their cases.
Ideally, you hold on to the best guy on your roster. Whether that is Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor, it most likely means the other guy will be moved. If the Philadelphia 76ers are truly high on Richaun Holmes, it can be inferred that he would start to get quality backup minutes.
Holmes is a Safe Bet
In a vacuum, there is no reason to move Richaun Holmes. He doesn’t have the highest value on the team. Let’s not forget that Nerlens Noel is an restricted free agent this summer. He will most likely want as close to a max contract as possible.
If the Philadelphia 76ers are willing to fork over the cash, then by all means do it. If not, they need to deal him for the best possible return. Holmes is still on his rookie deal. He has two more years on that deal.
So, you have two options here. First, you can pay top dollar for a defensive-oriented backup. Second, you can move the backup and fill a need elsewhere, while also holding onto a cheaper version of that player. That way, you maintain a solid nucleus while also addressing needs elsewhere.
Thus, it doesn’t seem like the Philadelphia 76ers have given up on Richaun Holmes. The team is simply making sure it makes the best possible move that makes the team better in the long run. GM Bryan Colangelo has been adamant on making quality transactions. He doesn’t want to make a bad deal. Keeping Richaun Holmes around is an ideal move. Whether he’s in the Sixers’ future is still up in the air, but that doesn’t mean he’s the odd man out.