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Why Morey has departed from his Rockets reputation in Sixers drafts

by Lewis hawkins
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Daryl Morey flashed a smile and took a swig of water as he listened to the question via Zoom.D

He needed no reminder of his NBA draft track record, nor of his reputation as an executive who doesn’t place an especially high value on first-round picks.

Before joining the Sixers as president of basketball operations in 2020, Morey’s last first-round selection was Sam Dekker at No. 18 in the 2015 draft. So, what swayed him and the Sixers to stay at their assigned slot the past two drafts, taking Tyrese Maxey last year with the 21st pick and Tennessee guard Jaden Springer at No. 28 on Thursday night? 

“I’d say the biggest one is we have two — I’m sorry, three — extremely good players in their prime — Tobias (Harris), Ben (Simmons) and Joel (Embiid) — and with a long runway in our minds, in terms of being in their 20s,” Morey said. “People pointed to a lot of us not using picks where I was before, and a lot of that was our key players were all in their 30s. We were reversing a lot of the draft capital into helping the team get over the final hump, and we didn’t quite get there, but we were pretty good.

“We’ve got three guys in their 20s in their prime and we feel like we can do both — increase our odds of winning now and also keep developing, as well. To your point, some of it is what opportunities were available relative to the quality of the player. That’s always something that you have to judge. We feel really good about who was available.”

Indeed, Morey’s excitement about being able to take Springer did not appear remotely manufactured. Though realistic about the 18-year-old’s 43.5 percent college three-point shooting mark likely not translating to the NBA, he gushed about Springer’s 3-and-D potential.

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