Former Sixers scout evaluates Jaden Srpinger, second-round big men

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The 2021 NBA draft yielding some promising prospects for the Philadelphia 76ers. They selected a potential long-term 3-and-D player with their late first-round pick and they then addressed their big men depth issue when they selected two skilled ones at 50 and 53.

Jaden Springer, Charles Bassey, and Filip Petrusev will need some time to develop and they won’t exactly help the Sixers right away, but they are guys who can be helpful to this team in the future. They are all some really solid players who have bright futures.

To help Sixers Wire fully evaluate these prospects, former Sixers scout Michael VandeGarde sat down to discuss what he likes about all three rookies. VandeGarde spent 20 years in the NBA, 18 of them with the Sixers, and he is now working as a part-owner and advisor for Coach Tube to continue developing younger talent.

With VandeGarde’s background covered, let’s get into all three rookies starting with Springer:

Please note this interview was minorly edited in its transcript for clarity.

Jaden Springer: 28

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Sixers Wire: What did you think of the Jaden Springer pick at 28? Did that surprise you at all? VandeGarde: I don't think it surprised me. I like the pick for a couple of reasons. One, he’s really young. Upside, especially when you're picking later in the first round. You’re not getting the top tier talent so you're looking to get a guy that's a little bit younger so he has a little bit more upside and I think he's got the ball well, obviously, that's something that they need for spacing around (Joel) Embiid and, if (Ben) Simmons is around, Simmons as well so I like those two attributes from him. He showed a little versatility in the fact that passes the ball a little bit. He had three assists the game basically at Tennessee last year, would love to see his rebounding a little bit higher or this or that, but he had great numbers for a really young kid at Tennessee and the SEC so I think he probably went right around where it should have gone. Late first, solid pick. SW: You mentioned his shooting. He did shoot 43.5% from deep, but he only took 1.8 3s a game. It's a small sample size. Does that worry you at all? VandeGarde: Absolutely, that does concern me. What I say that concerns me is I'm just not sure how good a shooter he is. It’s a positive that he shot it well, but yes he didn’t shoot it very much then. In today's game, whether it's the NBA game or college game, or even high school game, guys that are good shooters are usually getting six to 10 3s a game. So that is a little of a, I should say it's a question mark, not a concern. Can we believe those numbers are as legit as the percentage? Probably not, but he did shoot over 80% from the free-throw line, that's a good number. Maybe it's a confidence thing or maybe that's not what he did in high school, I don't remember him from high school much. I know he played at IMG, one of the best programs in the country, probably like to know what he shot there or what is his high school numbers were but, it's encouraging, but yeah it's a question mark. Is it real? SW: On the other end is where Jaden made his name. Do you think that he can make an impact right away on that end maybe like the way Matisse Thybulle did when he first came into the league with his defense? VandeGarde: I think that's gonna be how he finds his way onto the court. I'm not sure if he can make an impact. The kid’s still 19-years old. Can he make that impact right away? Probably not. He's got a lot to learn. I think that's part of a strength of his game and I think that's going to keep growing and growing and growing, but Matisse Thybulle came in at 23-24 years old, and he struggled at times. The greatest defenders don't just walk right in and be great defenders. There's got to be some patience in this kid’s game. How good a defender can he be and how quick? That’s probably going to determine a lot of how much he plays. His offensive game is going to be a work in progress especially. I wouldn't expect much from a 19-year old kid walking into one of the best teams in the league that's actually trying to win a championship. I mean, the expectations on this kid should be what is he going to be in 3-4 years. SW: So you're thinking that for at least the time being, he's probably ending up in the G League to continue to develop his game? Do you think that's his early track, at least? VandeGarde: We got to realize what his age is…it’s gonna take time. I mean, Simmons is an elite defender now but he's 23-24 years old. He was a good defender when he walked in but he was also 6-foot-9/6-foot-10 with elite skills, drafted at number one. This kid’s younger than Ben, this kid’s smaller than Ben, and he wasn't drafted in the top two or three so this kid's gonna take time. Whether it’s in the G League, whether he gets some minutes because there's some injuries, whether he gets a little further along than what everybody thinks at this point, I just don't think we should expect much. I remember drafting Andre Iguodala back in the day and he was an elite defender throughout his career, and he was a good defender from the beginning and he actually started a lot. We were not as good a team as this team was, and they needed exactly that was next to Allen Iverson so this kid’s walking into a whole different situation.

Charles Bassey: 53

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SW: Now moving on to the second-round picks, they drafted a couple of big men which is something they needed after trading away Tony Bradley in the George Hill deal. They did get Andre Drummond, but they also have two young big men in Charles Bassey and Filip Petrusev. What did you see out of Bassey and what do you think he can contribute to this team? VandeGarde: It’s an interesting pick. One of the highest-graded guys coming out of high school class and some of that's just due to his massive size. He’s a really strong kid, he's an athletic kid, not extremely mobile, but he knows his game and he plays his game well, he can rebound the basketball, he provides some toughness in the lame. Blocking shots is still a little bit of a question mark, I think. He did well in college, but he was playing a little bit on the lower level and he sees a project big. He got drafted in the second round and he's a project big. If he just flat out makes the team and ever finds the court, finds some time, that's a heck of a pick, but I don't know if he's gonna make it or not. G League a bunch. It’s nice that they signed Andre Drummond to be that backup guy. There’s some other guys on the roster I can give you some backup big minutes as well. (Georges) Niang, Ben Simmons, if he's there, and they can go small. I like to pick, I think it's a chance to take him and that's kind of what you look for in the second round and he definitely can rebound the ball and he's definitely a big, big man and he plays hard.

Filip Petrusev: 50

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SW: Give the fans an idea of what Filip Petrusev can really be. He was the West Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2020 at Gonzaga, then he went back to Serbia and he played in the Adriatic League and he looked pretty solid over there. He had some good moments in summer league, he is going to be playing this season in Turkey, what can fans expect from Petrusev? VandeGarde: He's definitely a skilled big man. He plays hard. He’s got a little ability to have the ball in his hands and make plays. He was really improved from his freshman year at Gonzaga to his sophomore year and I don't really know the story as to why he left, because they obviously had a great team again, but his minutes dramatically increased and his production increased along with those minutes. He was drafted in the second round for a reason. He's a project big, let's see how he develops in Europe. If he develops a little bit, he’s worth coming over and being backup big, then you got yourself a heck of a pick. I wouldn't put any exaggeration and think ‘Hey, he's gonna come in here, be a hell of a player and a top rotation guy and this and that’. I do like him. I like him a lot, especially where he was picked. I think it’s a good pick, but the expectations should be low. If he ever makes the rotation, that’s a helluva pick.

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