Sixers news

After weighing options, sweating it out, Morey thinks Sixers got top-10 prospect

Morey said the Sixers were “looking at a lot of scenarios” before they drafted Jared McCain.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Just like four drafts ago, the Miami Heat were on the clock directly in front of the Sixers.

“We were really sweating the pick right before us, actually,” Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said with a laugh late Wednesday night from the team’s training complex in Camden, New Jersey.

As was the case when the Sixers selected future All-Star Tyrese Maxey, Morey described himself as “thrilled” to see Miami opt against taking a one-and-done guard. In 2020, Precious Achiuwa went 20th, Maxey 21st. This time around, the Heat picked Indiana center Kel’el Ware at No. 15 and the Sixers added Duke guard Jared McCain at No. 16.

“Jared, he’s just been a winner everywhere,” Morey said. “He’s going to be someone Philly loves. Pretty rare to get a combination of a guy that’s got some skills that will get him on the floor earlier, including shooting, but also with a lot of upside and on a very steep improvement curve, even at his time at Duke defensively. … As everyone says, we were pretty surprised he was there. We were looking at a lot of scenarios with trade out, trade back, and they all sort of went away when Jared made it.” 

Morey named no names with those potential trade scenarios.

He did volunteer that “there was a player offered to us that was pretty interesting; we’d move back a bunch of slots. There was a move back pretty far (option) but pick up … quite a few second-round picks and things like that.” 

Later, when asked about the Sixers’ desire to instantly construct a championship-contending team around 30-year-old superstar big man Joel Embiid and 23-year-old Most Improved Player Maxey, Morey noted the Sixers discussed a deal for “a player we might be able to acquire later, potentially.” 

Regardless of what comes next in Morey’s offseason, he’s happy to have McCain on board. 

“We had McCain as a top-10 player in this draft,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of roster opportunity, so if you can get a player who is hopefully rotation-ready at a very young age … I don’t want to put pressure on him, but we think he’s got the improvement curve, he’s got the approach, he’s obviously got a skill that the coach will turn around on the bench and say, ‘Hey, I need that skill.’ 

“He can really punish people in transition, really rebound. … I don’t want to put any tough expectations on him, but we really think this guy’s going to be a 76er for a very long time like some of our recent draft picks.”

Unlike with Maxey, it’s not necessary to feel McCain’s shooting percentages are destined to rise in the NBA; he was a very efficient college guard (61.1 true shooting percentage). 

No need to focus on form, pre-college stats, shot variety and other indicators to envision future success. Everything points to McCain being a terrific shooter in the present. 

“We really value shooting given the rest of the roster — especially Joel,” Morey said. “We just think Joel’s unguardable when he has shooting around him. … Early on, obviously Jared’s not going to be playing with Maxey a whole lot. It’s just hard for a rookie, but that elite shooting from two guys out on the floor is pretty hard to guard, and both of them make it really tough on if you try to guard them tight. I don’t have to sell Tyrese Maxey, but Jared can (also) attack a closeout and make a play.”

And while McCain’s three-point volume at Duke wasn’t Isaiah Joe-esque, Morey certainly liked that he put up 7.4 triples per 40 minutes.

“He’s already putting up a high volume of threes,” Morey said. “And being able to shoot threes at a high volume and be in the high 30s, low 40s (percentage-wise) is maybe the most valuable skill in the NBA. It’s on the list of the top few, so that’s a big, big part of the calculus with Jared. One hundred percent, absolutely.” 

Again, Morey ultimately felt that waiting (and sweating a bit) was worthwhile. 

Contact Us