Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers select UCLA big man Adem Bona with 41st pick

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The Sixers went with a big man on Day 2 of the 2024 NBA draft.

The team selected Adem Bona, a Nigerian center who averaged 12.4 points and 5.9 rebounds as a UCLA sophomore, at No. 41 overall.

Bona is not a stretch five; he made no three-pointers and hit 69.6 percent of his free throws last season. He's slightly shorter than the average NBA center — 6-8.25 without shoes at the draft combine — but has a wingspan of nearly 7-4 and is a muscular 243 pounds.

The 21-year-old drew widespread praise from draft experts for his end-to-end hustle and defensive tools. Fouls were problematic for Bona, but he averaged 1.8 blocks and 1.1 steals, flew all around the floor, and won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award.

“Adem is a high-motor player with proven abilities as both a rim protector and switchable defender,” Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said in a team press release. “He possesses an impressive blend of size, athleticism, and defensive toughness, and we’re excited to add him to our team.”

On Day 1 of the draft, the Sixers selected Duke guard Jared McCain at No. 16. The 41st pick was their only one in the second round.

Bona will join a team set to fill out most of its roster in the coming days. Outside of occasional small-ball options like Nicolas Batum and KJ Martin, the Sixers used Paul Reed and Mo Bamba as Joel Embiid's main backups last year. Reed played in every game of the 2023-24 season but had a subpar first-round playoff series against the Knicks. His contract is non-guaranteed (with a salary of approximately $7.7 million) for next year.

While Bona doesn't look like an offensively talented center with the skills to play alongside Embiid, we'll see whether he's able to become a defensively versatile, maximum-effort backup.

Both Embiid and Bona grew up playing soccer and support English Premier League club Arsenal.

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