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Second round: Sixers draft another MVP caliber big, a former top 10 recruit, an UDFA, & Daryl Morey speaks

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With round one in the books, and the 28th pick used on Jaden Springer, Sixer fans are feeling good again.

Then the Sixers added two big men with the 50th and 53rd picks in the draft. The position of backup big man has led to sports-PTSD in Philadelphia. From Amir Johnson, to Trevor Booker, to Boban Marjanovic, to Jonah Bolden, to Anžejs Pasečņiks, to Greg Monroe to Dwight Howard they’ve just never been able to find a reserve big who was viable by the second round of the playoffs. The lone exception might have been Al Horford, but they ruined that by giving him $112M and using him as a starter.

But late on draft night, the Sixers selected a pair of bigs with the 50th and 53rd picks.

Filip Petrusev

Filip Petrusuv, 21, played two seasons at Gonzaga, as a traditional big. Per ESPN’s Mike Schmitz, he was “automatic in the paint.” He won WCC Player of the Year as a sophomore with averages of 17.5 points and 7.9 boards. But following those two seasons, he went back to his native Serbia, at the onset of the Pandemic. Playing in the Adriatic league, the same league that produced pros like NBA league MVP Nikola Jokić, Petrusuv improved his shooting enough to really play beyond the paint. He wound up winning 2021 MVP overseas.

During his MVP season he dropped 23.6 points, and 7.6 rebounds for KK Mega Basket.

His shooting form looks pretty clean here, although he’s not a high-volume bomber he did shoot over 40 percent on 62 attempts in 21 games en route MVP honors.

So now the Sixers technically have two MVP caliber centers, an Adriatic League one, and an NBA one.

ESPN’s Jay Bilas noted that Petrusev does have the option to stay in Europe, and while Mike Schmitz replied that he wants to come over, it doesn’t sound like that is imminent:

The Sixers have needed a stretch big more than any team in the NBA since they parted with Horford in 2020. If Ben Simmons is going to be around, they’ll certainly hope one of Paul Reed or Petrusev (eventually) can play that role. The former Bulldog will probably have his work cut out for him playing defense against opposing NBA stars but he’s an intriguing stash prospect.

Filip probably reps the big who can shoot. And this could put some pressure on B-Ball Paul down the road....

Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky

So there you go, boom, depth.

With the 53rd pick, the one the team purchased early on draft day, the team selected Charles Bassey, another big man. Petrusuv is 7’, 235 and Bassey is 6’11 235, so they’re both very large dudes. Buying the extra pick allowed them to stash one big and bring over another right away.

Bassey was actually a top ten recruit at one point (6th overall in 2018) after high school before suffering a gruesome tibial plateau fracture, a knee injury that left him facing a 9-month rehab timeline. Then the pandemic hit. He’s no stranger to adversity and has had a long road back.

Born in Nigeria, Bassey wound up in Western Kentucky. He was projected to go in the middle to late first-round a couple seasons ago before the injury. He has size, springiness, and some exciting flashes of athleticism. He’s pretty raw and doesn’t necessarily profile as a shooting big. But he’s provided flashes of pro-level talent, a high motor, and solid touch; perhaps his shot can be developed.

Bassey runs well, likes to dunk, and might occasionally remind you of Bismack Biyombo or Clint Capela. It seems like he has solid touch on his free throws.

More from Morey on Bassey, per Ky Carlin, Sixerwire:

“He’s someone who can shoot. I think with the bigs we’re bringing in, we want to make sure they can, they’re either switchable or can shoot, and Charles has versatility there. I don’t know. We like who we picked. Shocker.”

UDFA, Aaron Henry

Projected to go somewhere in the second round, the Michigan State 6’6 star SF, Aaron Henry, signed with the Sixers after the draft wrapped up. He’ll be eligible for the G League, and potentially some run with the 76ers. According to our resident draftnik Dan Olinger, Henry is a “great pickup” as an undrafted free agent.

More from Olinger;

“Very strong build and flashes quick twitch ability with his handle. Off hand finishes are nice. Very good defender overall. Shot may appear awkward but not broken, just hard to predict. He might be able to carve out a role at some point.”

Extras

Not a surprise that Morey was not interested in discussing the Simmons latest. Tonight is about the new picks, and with no blockbuster transpiring, there isn’t much benefit to chatting about the Simmons’ situation. I’m not holding my breath on anything happening tomorrow either.

This one was probably the biggest surprise of the night, since it was widely reported Philly would shop this 28th pick. But fans should be excited they did not because it implies they turned down deals they had lined up for an exciting player they didn’t expect to fall into their laps.

That the team is not concerned with Embiid’s knee (which suffered a small tear of the right lateral meniscus back on Memorial day) at all is tremendous news; arguably the biggest news of the night. That they avoided confirming whether or not there would be surgery at some point, however, leaves a little bit of concern. As NFL fans monitor the New Orleans Saints news, they’ll notice that their superstar receiver Michael Thomas opted for ankle surgery much much later into the off-season than the team would have liked and now has about a four-month recovery period with the season starting in early September. So hopefully Embiid does not need surgery. But if he does, hopefully, they figure that out sooner rather than later.