Sixers make Simmons top NBA draft pick

LSU forward compared to LeBron.
Ben Simmons of LSU reacts as he walks off stage after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Ben Simmons of LSU reacts as he walks off stage after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Simmons it is.

The 76ers did as everyone expected Thursday night and chose power forward Ben Simmons of Louisiana State University with the first overall pick of the NBA draft.

Simmons is the first No. 1 pick taken by the Sixers since 1996 when they took Allen Iverson out of Georgetown. They also chose Doug Collins first overall in 1973.

The 19-year-old is also the third player born in Melbourne, Australia, to be taken first overall in the last 12 years, joining Kyrie Irving (2011) and Andrew Bogut (2005).

“It may be” something in the water, Simmons said Wednesday when asked of the possibility of joining Irving and Bogut. “It may be perfect timing.”

It may be perfect timing for the Sixers, who finished 10-72 last season in a process that featured tanking and a 47-199 record over the last three seasons.

At 6-foot-10 and 243 pounds, Simmons is expected to have an immediate impact on the Sixers. Although he has been criticized for his lack of an outside shooting game, he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals as a freshman last season at LSU.

Scouts around the country and NBA executives raved about Simmons’ passing, ballhandling, rebounding and vision on the court. He was a consensus first-team all-American and the United States Basketball Writers Association freshman of the year.

“Ben Simmons is ready to come and play in the NBA right now,” one NBA executive said. “His game may be more suited to the NBA than college.”

Said one NBA scout: “Ben Simmons is able to do so much. . . . He’s a franchise player.”

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James has served as a mentor to Simmons.

“He has all the tools,” James said. “So it’s up to him” to be a great player.

Simmons worked out for the Sixers on Tuesday _ they were the only team for which he worked out _ and general manager Bryan Colangelo gushed afterward. Colangelo said Simmons “is going to have an impact physically at this level almost immediately.”

After that workout, Simmons took to Instagram and posted a photo of himself in a Sixers workout uniform over the caption “Trust the process.”

Simmons grew up in Australia before moving to Florida, and his family already has a relationship with Sixers coach Brett Brown, who coached Simmons’ father, Dave, for several seasons in the Australian National Basketball League.

Simmons’ stock appeared to dip a bit after LSU went 19-14 last season, did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament, and Simmons failed to be a difference maker. Then there was chatter that he wanted to be drafted at No. 2 by the Lakers and play in Los Angeles.

“Who said that?” Simmons said Wednesday. “That never came from me.”

His individual play was still so superb that talk of his college team’s failure and the Lakers rumors faded. He later made it clear that he wanted to be the No. 1 pick.

How Simmons fits in with the Sixers on the court is to be determined, but unlike several recent Sixers top picks, he will be expected to produce immediately.

“Definitely, me and [Sixers center] Joel Embiid have known each other since high school,” Simmons said. “So we’ve had the bond for a while . . . I think we definitely play well together.”


The Lakers hoped to find a cornerstone of their future by selecting Brandon Ingram with the second pick in the NBA draft Thursday.

Ingram is a reed-thin small forward who shot extremely well in his only season at Duke, making 80 3-pointers on 41 percent accuracy behind the arc.

He averaged 17.3 points, displayed tenacity on defense despite his slender build and also showed good ball-handling skills while becoming the ACC freshman of the year.

The main criticism of his game is his weight — he’s 6-foot-9 but only 190 pounds. Ingram hoped to gain 10 to 15 pounds every summer to make his body more NBA-ready, he said after a pre-draft workout with the Lakers earlier this month.

Simmons and Ingram were the top two prospects by a fairly wide margin, with several players vying for third-best status.

Ingram had one of the best seasons ever for a Duke freshman, ranking among the school’s all-time freshmen leaders for scoring (third), 20-point games (tied for second), 3-pointers (second) and minutes (third).

He was the second player the Lakers drafted second overall in as many years. They picked Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell a year ago with mixed results.

Russell averaged 13.2 points and 3.3 assists, including an eight-game binge where he averaged 23.5 points and 4.8 assists after the All-Star break. But he damaged team chemistry when he secretly shot video of Nick Young discussing interest in women that were not his fiancee at the time.



With the third pick the Boston Celtics drafted California forward Jaylen Brown.

Brown made the most of his lone season with the Golden Bears, averaging 14.6 points per game and 5.4 rebounds in 34 games. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Brown was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year as well as a member of the First Team All-Pac-12 squad.

With the 16th pick the Celtics selected Guerschon Yabusele, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward from Rouen Metropole in France.


Of regional note, Syracuse freshman Malachi Richardson, a 6-foot-6, 199-pound shooting guard out of Syracuse, was drafted 22nd overall by the Charlotte Hornets. Richardson led the Orange to surprise berth in the Final Four.

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