Ever since he made the announcement that he would be playing his college ball at LSU, forward Ben Simmons was projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. While he hit some bumps along the way that created some questions whether Duke’s Brandon Ingram had passed him as the top prospect in this draft class, it seems the Philadelphia 76ers’ confidence in Simmons never wavered.
Multiple sources are reporting that the 76ers have promised Simmons that he will be the No. 1 overall selection in Thursday night’s draft.
Philly is loaded with good news today. https://t.co/iPTOPKpmC1
— CBS Local Sports (@CBSLocalSports) June 21, 2016
Simmons was in Philadelphia on Tuesday to finally work out for the 76ers. He originally said that he would not be working out for any teams prior to the draft, but changed his mind after having dinner with the 76ers in Cleveland last week. Simmons was reportedly told following the workout that Philadelphia planned to draft him with the top overall pick.
While most scouts believe that Simmons has the most potential of any player in this class, he still has a lot of work to do before he becomes a star. Simmons is a tremendous rebounder, outstanding passer, and skilled ball-handler for a big man, but he lacks a consistent offensive game outside of three feet.
In order to reach his full promise, the 76ers need Simmons to get in the gym and work on his mid-range jumper and his offensive moves from the post. He was able to be successful in college because of his size, but in the NBA, Simmons is the same height and weight as Kevin Durant. Can you imagine Kevin Durant trying to go down low against DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard, or Marc Gasol?
For the 76ers, drafting Simmons may have been an easy decision, but now the team must figure out what to do with the amount of young players they have in the front-court. Philadelphia used the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft to select Nerlens Noel who can play either center or power forward. The team followed up the Noel pick with selections of center Joel Embiid with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and Jahlil Okafor with the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
In addition to Noel, Embiid, Okafor, and Simmons, the 76ers also traded for the rights to 2014 No. 12 overall pick Dario Saric from Croatia. Saric has yet to come to America to play in the in the NBA, but it’s sounding more and more likely that he will debut in 2016-17.
Embiid also announced on Tuesday that he’s resumed basketball activities after injuring his right foot before playing a game in the NBA.
And I’m FINALLY BACK on the court!!! Been a long time coming.. Great day to be a Sixer #TrustTheProcess
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 21, 2016
With so many talented young front-court players, the 76ers have been rumored to be looking to make a trade. According to reports, Okafor and Noel are the two players that the team has made readily available with Okafor likely being the target for most teams because of his high ceiling. Noel and Simmons are a lot alike as Noel came out of college with no offensive game whatsoever.
With the 76ers’ changes in the front office, it seems that the team is ready to speed up the process of contending. While Philadelphia is still likely at least five years from contending, Bryan Colangelo sure has a lot of assets to work with as he tries to bring a title back to “The City of Brotherly Love.”
[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]