During his first NBA draft as the 76ers’ president of basketball operations last year, Daryl Morey stood pat in the first round. Whether that happens two years in a row remains to be seen, but Morey is not bashful when it comes to draft dealing.
On Tuesday, Morey talked about the need to improve, two days after the Sixers’ 103-96 Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The big question is whether Ben Simmons will be traded, and Morey obviously won’t tip his hand on that subject. But he did suggest that he has a history of being an active mover during the draft.
The 76ers have two picks in the July 29 draft, No. 28 in the first round and No. 50 in the second round.
“It’s a pretty deep draft in that range,” Morey said about the No. 28 pick. “So if we keep the pick, I mean, frankly, you know I’m someone who likes to move up and down, optimize the draft. But if we stay with that pick like we did last year, I feel good about the players.”
During his time in Houston, Morey acquired 27 draft picks and traded 37 others.
The Sixers have plenty of draft capital with which to work. Counting this year, they have their own first-round pick in each of the next four drafts.
Before the regular season, Morey sent the Sixers’ 2025 first-round pick to Oklahoma City, which is top-six pick protected. That was part of a multiplayer trade with the Thunder, with the highlight being the Sixers acquiring Danny Green and dealing Al Horford.
The Sixers are in a win-now mode. Players such as Villanova sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, North Carolina freshman center Day’Ron Sharpe, Virginia junior shooting guard Trey Murphy, West Virginia sophomore point guard Miles McBride, and Illinois junior shooting guard Ayo Dosunmu are among those listed near the bottom of the first round in various mock drafts.
A key is whether Morey will use the first-round pick to trade for a veteran or if he feels comfortable that a contributor can be selected at No. 28, whether it is for next season or further in the future.
With his reputation as a dealer of players, it was anticipated that Morey would have moved last season’s first-round pick. But the Sixers didn’t budge and selected guard Tyrese Maxey at No. 21 overall.
Maxey momentarily saved the Sixers’ season by scoring 16 points in their 104-99 victory in Game 6 over the Hawks.
It was by far Maxey’s most impactful game in the series, but he also had three double-figure scoring efforts in the first round, which the Sixers won in five games over the Washington Wizards.
When given the opportunity, Maxey showed that no moment was too big. He was aggressive taking the ball to the basket. The ball didn’t always go in, but it didn’t deter him.
During the regular season and postseason, Maxey’s playing time went up and down. But for a player who won’t turn 21 until November, he appears to have a bright future with the team.
Morey talked about hitting on the No. 21 pick.
“I feel like we pulled that off this year. Obviously, Maxey wasn’t every day in the rotation last year, but we feel like he has a really good chance to step into that rotation next year,” Morey said. “That’s super rare for anyone that’s [picked] in the 20s. But I believe in our scouting staff. I believe in our coaches’ ability to develop these players and put them in good roles.”