P.J. Tucker: The ultimate player-coach

November 18, 2022, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: NBA – Sixers v Bucks T.J. Tucker (17 Sixers) passing the ball during the National Basketball Association game between Philadelphia Sixers and Milwaukee Bucks at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Sport Press Photo/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire) ****NO AGENTS—NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY****

When P.J. Tucker signed a 3-year, $30 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers in the offseason, there was a lot of talk about what he would bring to the team. Would he be the consistent defensive stopper we’ve seen for years? Or would be a 37-year-old player-coach here to mentor the young guys and show the team how to compete in the playoffs?

What we ended up getting, in the end, was the best mixes of both. Tucker, thus far through the playoffs, has been a gritty, hard-nosed defender on the court while regularly being one of the most vocal leaders on the team. 

As far as on-court production, the twelve-year veteran of the NBA has started all six games for the 76ers in the playoffs this postseason. He is also fifth on the team in minutes per game for the playoffs. While P.J. Tucker’s stats will never do his play justice, Tucker is averaging 2.8 points, 2.2 offensive rebounds, 3.8 offensive rebounds (6.0 total rebounds), 1.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.

More important than his counting stats though, is the impact that he is having. While there isn’t a great way to measure hustle and defense in regular stats, the fact that Tucker is second on the team in offensive rebounds per game while also being second on the team in steals shows that P.J. Tucker is far from underwhelming.

P.J. Tucker has also become one of the most vocal leaders for the 76ers in games. In Game 1 against the Boston Celtics, he was seen yelling at Paul Reed on the bench. While some blew this out of proportion, this is what he was brought in for.

Whatever was said to Reed clearly worked, as the big man knocked down clutch free throws at the end of the game to steal Game 1 of the series. P.J. Tucker may not be the flashiest player in the 76ers rotation, nor does he have the highest upside, but what he does is nearly irreplaceable and can’t be overlooked in the slightest. Game 3 will be played tonight in Philadelphia at 7:30 EST.