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76ers, Knicks make additions with eye toward competing with champion Celtics


The New York Knicks have done well lately getting production out of left-handed guards hailing from the Big East Conference.

Jalen Brunson went from Villanova to the Knicks' franchise cornerstone after signing with New York just two seasons ago. The Knicks are hoping they've found another jewel after trading up with Toronto to draft former Marquette guard Tyler Kolek during Thursday's second round of the NBA draft.

Kolek, selected 34th overall, was one of three players New York selected after a flurry of trades up and down the board by the Knicks and Raptors.

New York ended up with three total players. Toronto also concluded the day with three, led by Jonathan Mogbo out of San Francisco, who the Raptors took with the top pick of the round.

The NBA champion Celtics picked 54th overall and for the second straight day took a player to develop, selecting a five-year college player in 23-year-old Anton Watson from Gonzaga.

The Brooklyn Nets didn’t have a second-round pick. Philadelphia forfeited one of its two second-round selections as part of its penalty for engaging in early free agency discussions with P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, Jr.

Here is a look at what all of the Atlantic Division teams did in the second round of the draft:

Boston Celtics

Team needs: Depth. Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens made it clear earlier in the week that any player selected during the draft would have a difficult time cracking their current rotation. It’s a great position to be in for a team expected to spend the balance of the offseason simply tweaking the bottom of its roster

Who did the Celtics draft: Aside from being experienced, Watson also was known for his defense at the college level which was surely a draw for Boston. He will almost certainly sign a two-way deal and have to prove himself in the G-League to have any chance of working his way onto the NBA roster. After selecting a shooter in former Creighton guard Baylor Scheierman in the first round, look for Boston to add some center depth at some point this offseason.

New York Knicks

Team needs: Not much from the draft, after agreeing to a deal to acquire Mikal Bridges from the Nets and getting OG Anunoby to agree on his long-term pact to stay in New York.

Who did the Knicks draft: Along with Kolek, New York also picked Kansas forward Kevin McCullar Jr. at No. 54 and closed the draft by choosing German center Ariel Hukporti 58th, which it received via a trade with Dallas. McCullar was a scorer in college, averaging 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists in his final season. Hukporti is a project who may not even come over from Europe this upcoming season.

Philadelphia 76ers

Team needs: Just about everything. Almost the entire team — players such as Kelly Oubre Jr., Kyle Lowry and Nic Batum — ended the season with an expired contract. Team president Daryl Morey has about $65 million in salary cap space, a max contract topping $200 million to offer Maxey and plenty of questions to solve on how to finally, truly build an NBA championship contender around Embiid.

Who did the 76ers draft: A round after picking Duke guard Jared McCain, the 76ers selected UCLA center Adem Bona with the 41st overall pick. The sophomore from Lagos, Nigeria, averaged 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while starting 65 of 66 games over his two years in Westwood. The 6-foot-10 forward-center was named All-Pac-12 and was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year this season. Bona earned Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honors both seasons and was named the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2023. He finished with 115 blocks, ranking sixth on UCLA’s career list. He was the first player since Dan Gadzuric in 2001 to have back-to-back seasons with at least 50 blocks.

Toronto Raptors

Team needs: Any promising player to line up alongside newly-extended All-Star forward Scottie Barnes on a talent-starved squad that traded away Anunoby and Pascal Siakam last season before slumping to a 25-57 finish and missing the play-in tournament.

Who did the Raptors draft: Mogbo is listed at 6-foot-7, but also possesses and 7-foot wingspan that allows him to play much bigger. In addition, they also are expected to receive former Houston guard Jamal Shead in a trade after he was taken 45th by Sacramento. Shead was Big 12 Player and Defensive Player of the Year as a senior this season, averaging 12.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Toronto ended the day trading with Memphis for the 57th pick to take make Cameroon's Ulrich Chomche the first player drafted from the NBA Academy Africa.


AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney, AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston and freelancer Ian Harrison contributed to this report.