Heading into the 2021 NBA Draft, Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey was given the green light to do something different. Typically, the Sixers are known to be the sellers of second-round picks when it comes to the draft. On Thursday, Sixers Managing Partner Josh Harris allowed Morey and the front office to buy a second-rounder with cash considerations.
Morey's motive on Thursday night was to take a smaller prospect with the 28th overall pick in the first round, then take advantage of the big man depth in the draft later on. Sure enough, that's how everything played out for the Sixers.
With the 28th pick, the Sixers selected Tennessee guard Jaden Springer. Philly double-dipped on bigs with picks 50 and 53 and grabbed former Gonzaga center Filip Petrusev at 50 and Western Kentucky center Charles Bassey three picks later.
"We thought the depth at the big spot was really strong this year," Morey explained following the draft. "We thought at the pick that we had in the 50s there would be one left. I was thrilled Josh (Harris) allowed us to spend two million to get a pick. We felt like there was gonna be a strong stash, and again, we got a big that was top 10 in high school in the country. It’s pretty rare for those guys to go outside the first round.”
Filip Petrusev, a Serbian basketball star, is no stranger to playing hoops in the United States. Back in 2016, he moved to Avon, Connecticut, to attend high school before eventually ending up in Florida to star at Montverde Academy.
Following a successful high school stint, Petrusev attended Gonzaga. Over the course of two seasons, he played 65 games, starting in all 33 games during his sophomore year. Petrusev wrapped up the 2019-2020 season averaging 17 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Feeling as if the 2020-2021 NCAA season was in jeopardy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Petrusev took his talents back overseas and signed with Mega Soccerbet of the Basketball League of Serbia. During his first professional season, Petrusev averaged 23 points, seven rebounds, and 1.1 blocks while draining 58-percent of his field-goal attempts and 42-percent of his threes.
After he showed a lot of promise overseas, Petrusev was a no-brainer pick for Morey in the second round this year. While the Sixers President believes there's certainly a role on the Sixers for the Serbian center in the future, Morey is quite certain that he'll continue his professional career overseas as a stash.
“We think Petrusev is someone who has a real chance to help up down the road," Morey explained. "He’ll likely start overseas and be someone who could come over later.” While Morey wouldn't rule out the chance of Petrusev making an appearance on the Sixers' Summer League team, it could be a while before he comes over and plays at the Wells Fargo Center for the first time.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.