The Sixers took two big men late in the second round of Thursday night’s NBA draft.
The team selected Filip Petrušev with the 50th pick and Charles Bassey with the 53rd pick.
Petrušev played two seasons at Gonzaga, then headed to his home country of Serbia to play the 2020-21 season for KK Mega Basket.
He won Adriatic League MVP, averaging 23.6 points and 7.6 rebounds and shooting 41.9 percent from three-point range. In his sophomore campaign with the Zags, Petrušev posted 17.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest.
In a post-draft press conference on Zoom, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey called Petrušev "someone who has a real chance to help us down the road" and said he'll likely play next season overseas.
A native of Lagos, Nigeria, Bassey was a latecomer to basketball who played soccer as a child. Superstar Sixers center Joel Embiid has a similar background.
Bassey spent three seasons at Western Kentucky and was a dominant force in Conference USA, winning the conference’s Player of the Year award as a junior. He averaged 17.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks as a junior.
“He’s a (former) top-10 high school recruit," Morey said. “(He’s) someone who can shoot. I think with the bigs we’re bringing in, we want to make sure they’re either switchable or can shoot. Charles has versatility there."
The Sixers officially acquired No. 53 Thursday morning from the Pelicans in exchange for cash considerations. They used their first-round pick, No. 28, to grab Tennessee guard Jaden Springer. Morey expects all three draft picks to participate in summer league play, which begins next month in Las Vegas.
He claimed the night mostly unfolded as the Sixers envisioned.
“I think our big spot right now — obviously we don’t know what’s going to happen in free agency yet — but our big spot right now has a little more obvious roster opportunity," Morey said. “That is not what we focused on, but it just happened to be that the players we liked the best … our rough plan was to take a non-big in the first round.
“We though the depth at the big spot was really strong this year, and we thought that at the pick that we had in the 50s, there would be one left. I was thrilled that Josh allowed us to spend $2 million to get a pick. We felt like there was going to be a strong stash … and then again, we got a big who was top 10 in high school in the country. It’s pretty rare for those guys to go outside the first round."
Dwight Howard, Embiid’s lone true backup after last season’s trade deadline, is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Morey also picked a frontcourt prospect in the 2020 draft, choosing Paul Reed at No. 58. Reed won G League MVP his rookie year.