It was a somewhat quiet draft night for the Sixers based on the sky-high expectations that Daryl Morey has set. The night was highlighted by the trade for De’Anthony Melton, who will bring with him a necessary burst of athleticism and defensive intensity off the bench. While they did not make any selections in the draft, this did not stop Daryl Morey from adding some new rookies to the roster. Perhaps the most notable signing was G-League Ignite standout Michael Foster Jr. who agreed to a deal with the Sixers shortly following the draft.
Who is Michael Foster Jr.?
A 6’9″ and 240-pound forward, Michael Foster Jr. has wing-like skills in a power forward’s body. He had an incredibly accomplished high school career which included being a McDonald’s All-American and first-team All-American by Sports Illustrated. Foster was the seventh-ranked prospect in the 2021 recruiting class and initially committed to Arizona State to play college ball. After closely monitoring the development of the first class of G-League Ignite prospects (including Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, and Isaiah Todd), Foster rethought the college route and elected to join the Ignite.
Despite the talented G-League Ignite roster that took the floor this year, including the likes of Jaden Hardy, MarJon Beauchamp, and Dyson Daniels, Foster Jr. still produced at a high level. During the G-League Ignite tour (15 games), Foster averaged 16.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.9 blocks in his 31.2 minutes per game. During the showcase (13 games), he averaged 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.2 blocks per game. He also teased some pick and pop potential by connecting on 31.3% of his three-point attempts.
The 19-year-old plays with intriguing strength, power, and athleticism. He has a pretty high motor and shows flashes of polish in his game. Foster is not afraid of contact and is a good rebounder on both sides of the floor. He showed some nice flashes as a playmaker, especially as a roll man in the pick-and-roll this season. The big man also appears to be looking leaner in his recent workouts, which could improve his mobility and versatility at the next level.
Why He Makes Sense for the Sixers
There is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the Sixers roster. With some noise still sure to be made in free agency, Michael Foster is a nice youthful player to add to the end of the bench. Daryl Morey has prioritized adding high-caliber guys whose pedigree is higher than their draft slot, and Foster fits this category. The forward is a great low-risk, high-reward signing considering he’s only a year out from being considered one of the best players in the nation coming out of high school.
The Sixers roster has been starved of athleticism and rebounding ability for several years, and Michael Foster Jr. can help in this regard. While he does not pop off the page as an athlete, he is far superior to the options the Sixers have played the past few seasons at the big man position. The hope would be that adding Foster Jr. to the young core of big men, including Charles Bassey and Bball Paul, would essentially take away Doc Rivers’ ability to play an end-of-the-line veteran at the backup center role. While this could certainly change in free agency, the current core of young big men provides the Sixers with a nice variety of stylistic options.
It is important to note how the mindset must change some when evaluating talent from the G-League Ignite. While the top-end recruits typically go to college and play in a system that is almost entirely built around their style of play, the same luxury is not given to the Ignite players. Facing off against grown men and guys who bounced in and out of the league is a difficult task for a 19-year-old.
While his NBA rise likely did not go exactly as planned for Foster, this is a great chance to add a high-level talent for much less than he could be worth. Obviously, there are not a ton of undrafted free agents who are able to make an immediate impact, but taking a chance on Michael Foster Jr. is a terrific swing for the Sixers.