PJ Tucker signed with the Philadelphia 76ers at the start of free agency. The two sides agreed to a 3-year contract worth $33 million, or $11 million per season. Tucker will hop to his next title contender after making the rounds these last few years.
Tucker has had to grind through one of the most unique career paths by any player in NBA history. He was originally drafted in the second round as the 35th overall of the 2006 NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors but was waived his rookie season. Tucker then embarked on a five-year stint playing basketball internationally. He received stamps on his passport from Israel, Ukraine, Greece, Italy, and Germany, improving his game along the way. Tucker returned to the NBA for good in 2012, as shifts in the league’s style of play turned him from a player without a position into an ideal power forward.
Over his 11-year NBA career, Tucker has played for the Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Miami Heat. He has averaged 7.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for his career. Last season he scored 7.6 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Miami Heat, but stats have never told the full story for Tucker.
He is a beastly defender and fully capable of checking the league’s best scorers one-on-one. He hasn’t made an All-Defensive Team, but has received votes in four seasons, and twice received more votes than any other forward that did not make the teams (in 2018-19 and 2019-20). His defense against fellow former Longhorn Kevin Durant in the 2021 playoffs helped ensure victory (and the title) for his Milwaukee Bucks.
The Sixers can expect the typical rugged defense from Tucker, with enough offensive contributions to remain a threat. He’s proven he can play under pressure after starting for the NBA champions and an Eastern Conference finalist in consecutive seasons. Tucker has shot copious corner threes since playing in Houston, and he made a career-high 41.5% from downtown last year.
He demonstrated new skills in Miami at age 36 by assisting more per minute than in any previous season of his career while executing dribble-handoff actions with Miami’s shooters. Tucker used the available driving lanes to shoot 53.5% on floaters. He will surely look to expand on those abilities next season.
Tucker, the sneaker king, has been remarkably durable throughout his career. He returned to the NBA in 2012 and has played in all 82 games three times. Tucker has missed over 11 games in a season just once in that time. He’s played in one Finals and four Conference Finals over the past 6 seasons as well. Tucker’s resiliency will be tested during this contract after turning 37 in May. Tucker’s play could decline over the next 3 years. However, if the Sixers win a championship in that time, there will be no regrets.