Sixers Select Ben Simmons With First Overall Pick
The Philadelphia 76ers made official what has long been expected: Ben Simmons is the first overall selection in the 2016 NBA draft.
Simmons has long been rumored to be the guy the Sixers were targeting after the team won May 17th’s NBA lottery. Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.0 steals per game during his only season at LSU.
“I’m happy to be part of the family now. It’s a weight off my chest,” said Simmons after a selection that had become a foregone conclusion. “I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while, so I’m glad I’ve made history, not only for myself but my family and Australian basketball.”
Simmons grew up in Newcastle, Australia, before coming to the United States in 2013 to attend Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida, the same school Joel Embiid attended. Simmons has another connection to the Sixers in head coach Brett Brown, who coached Simmons’ father, Dave, while in Australia.
Simmons will carry the weight of a struggling Sixers franchise on his shoulders, although he has help in potential reinforcements like Embiid. The two could form an intriguing power forward-center combination — if Embiid were able to get and stay healthy. Embiid has missed the last two seasons while trying to recover from a navicular bone fracture in his right foot.
In addition, the Sixers also have big men Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel — at least for now. Bryan Colangelo has been rumored to be shopping both of them in search of acquiring another top draft pick.
Simmons is an electric player, with incredible athleticism for his size, the ball handling ability of a guard, and elite court vision and passing ability. He will need to work on his outside shot, as he attempted just 3 three-point shots on the season and shot just 67 percent from the free-throw line.
Asked after the draft about what work lies ahead, Simmons spoke not as the draft’s most highly touted prospect but as a player about to embark on his rookie season: “Everything, from eating right to getting my body right for 82 games, to dribbling, to shooting, just everything. I think everything really needs to be worked on because you’re going to that next level where guys have been in the league for 10-plus years, so they have a lot of experience.”
Simmons spoke of the work ahead in Philly, and his childhood adoration of Allen Iverson. “A lot of people don’t know that I actually had a poster of AI when I was young. It was a big, diamond-cut poster of him with the braids. … I used to have the cornrows when I was younger.”
You can read more about why Simmons should have been the No. 1 selection in the draft from our big board.
With the 24th pick in the first round, the Sixer selected 6’7″, 205-pound French small forward Timothe Luwawu, who has the chance to be a really solid two-way role player. Standing 6’7″, with very good athleticism and an improving outside shot, that potential is there.
And with the 26th pick, the Sixers selected 6’7″, 185-pound Turkish shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz. The 18-year-old Korkmaz is one of the youngest players to see significant Euroleague playing time. Perhaps most notably, he is an Anadolu Efes teammate of Dario Saric, who — in a world without Joel Embiid — would be the team’s biggest unicorn: He, like Embiid, is consistently on the verge of maybe, possibly, potentially, theoretically joining the 76ers after they acquired his rights on draft night 2014.
Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.