Sixers: Grades for all 3 picks in 2021 NBA Draft

Jaden Springer, Sixers draftSyndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Jaden Springer, Sixers draftSyndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel /
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Sixers draft
Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel /

After a lot of trade chatter, the Sixers ended up keeping the 28th pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, selecting Tennessee freshman Jaden Springer. Then, armed with the 50th and 53rd overall picks, two centers — former Gonzaga star Filip Petrusev and Western Kentucky standout Charles Bassey — were added to the mix.

This was, by most estimations, a successful night for the Sixers, who reinforced the backcourt and invested in potential answers to the age-old question of “can Philadelphia put a half-decent backup behind Joel Embiid?”

Now, it is time to put on my professor’s hat and grade the Sixers’ performance. Did Daryl Morey pass or fail the offseason’s biggest test?

Sixers draft grades 2021 — Jaden Springer, 28th pick

. G. Tennessee. JADEN SPRINGER. A

The Sixers committed blatant highway robbery for the second NBA Draft in a row. Last season, it was Tyrese Maxey, who had no business being available with the 21st pick. This season, it’s Jaden Springer… who had no business being available with the 28th pick.

At 18 years old, Springer is already an established college contributor with NBA-ready skill and I.Q. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, and he could earn minutes on his defensive merits alone. Springer’s 3-point shot is the big concern — he will need to improve his catch-and-shoot volume — but the upside as a secondary playmaker and ball-mover is hard to ignore.

Springer plays the game with a rare poise for his age. He was the No. 15 prospect on my big board, and should have earned looks as high as the lottery. The Spurs, who reached on Joshua Primo at 12, would have been much better off taking Springer. Alas, he inexplicably fell to Philly at 28.

Philadelphia can only fit so many young players on the roster, much less in the rotation. Maxey earned his stripes last season, and Doc Rivers is traditionally wary of playing rookies. There is a good chance Springer does not crack the regular 10-man group in 2021, but at 18 years old, his immediate skill set and potential for improvement are hard to knock.

This was the best possible outcome under the circumstances. Daryl Morey should get keys to the city at this rate. He needs only to deliver a championship roster around Joel Embiid. The draft only matters so much when you’re trying so hard to win, but it can make a big difference if you add productive, cost-controlled contributors every year. Springer is a real player.