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Daryl Morey speaks on 76ers draft and declines to elaborate on Ben Simmons
NBA

Daryl Morey speaks on 76ers draft and declines to elaborate on Ben Simmons

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Jaden Springer

Jaden Springer, the Sixers' first-round draft pick, led the University of Tennessee in scoring last season and will not even turn 19 until September. 

Jaden Springer of the University of Tennessee joined the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.

For now, Ben Simmons is still with the team.

That sums up how the NBA draft unfolded for the Sixers. How good a draft Philadelphia had won’t be known for a few seasons.

“We’re trying to win the title,” Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey said after the draft. “We don’t go into a season saying, ‘OK, we think the guys we just drafted are going to help out in year one.’ ”

But how the Simmons scenario plays out will affect Philadelphia’s title chances.

There has been widespread speculation the Sixers will trade Simmons this offseason. That trade did not happen during the draft, a time during which many deals are made.

With Simmons, the Sixers have been one of the NBA’s top regular-season teams but a postseason disappointment. They finished 49-23 and were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this past season but lost in seven games to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Simmons shot 25 of 73 (34%) from the foul line during the playoffs. He played a combined 55 minutes, 47 seconds in the fourth quarter against the Hawks. He was 3 for 3 from the field and scored 15 points in those fourth quarters.

Morey declined to answer questions about Simmons after the draft.

“Frankly, I’m focused on the draft and the three guys excited to be here,” he said. “We’re back in the office (Friday) with the staff and have a lot of important work to do on the roster going forward.”

As for Springer, the Sixers selected the 6-foot-4 guard out of Tennessee with the No. 28 pick in the first round. Springer does not turn 19 until September, so he doesn’t figure to have an immediate impact on the team.

Springer, whose father, Gary, starred at Iona College in New York in the 1980s, is known for his defense. He spent one season with the Volunteers.

Springer led Tennessee in scoring with a 12.5 average. He also averaged 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 rebounds. Springer shot 43.5% from 3-poinmt range but he was not a high-volume shooter: He made 20 of 46 from beyond the arc.

“Jaden is really exciting,” Morey said. “I know GMs get killed for talking about upside, but he’s not 19 yet. He was already a productive player at Tennessee. We feel good about his ability to be a 3-and-D player in this league. We all know how valuable they are.”

The Sixers also added a pair of big men in the second round. They selected 6-11 Filip Petrusev, a 21-year-old from Serbia, with the No. 50 pick.

Petrusev starred at Gonzaga in 2019-20. He averaged 17.45 points and 7.9 rebounds and was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year. He played professionally in Serbia last season.

With the No. 53 pick, the Sixers picked 6-11 center Charles Bassey out of Western Kentucky.

Bassey, 20, was born in Nigeria and moved to the U.S. when he was 14 to further his basketball prospects. He averaged 17.6 points and 11.6 rebounds last season.

As with Springer, there is little chance Petrusev and Bassey will play key roles in the upcoming season. Petrusev probably will continue to play overseas.

“I view the draft as the really important blocking and tackling that you (do) if you’re going to have a consistent winner, like we plan to have here in Philly,” Morey said. “Generally, these players don’t pan out in year one. It’s years two, three or four where they pan out.”

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