The Philadelphia 76ers landed their first No1 overall draft pick in 20 years on Tuesday at the NBA’s draft lottery, putting Australia’s Ben Simmons in line to head to the team that finished the season as the worst in the league.
Philadelphia have endured a dreadful three-year stretch that was a part of a rebuilding plan to restock the franchise with top picks. Their record of 10-72 this past season gave them the best chance at getting the No1 selection for the 23 June draft and it paid off as they came out ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, who will draft second and third.
“My immediate thought goes straight to the city of Philadelphia,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “They have been amazing in allowing us to go through the process we have. We’re excited about the news we have tonight.”
Louisiana State University standout Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram are expected to be the first two choices. Should Simmons go first he would team-up with one of the NBA’s brightest young cores in Brown, who coached Australia at the 2012 Olympics.
Brown’s connections to Australia could open the way for the Melbourne-born teenager to join the Australian Olympic team this year, despite Simmons having already indicated he was unavailable to go to Rio.
The 76ers have given little away about who they will choose with their top pick. Simmons’ biggest threat is Ingram, with some draft analysts suggesting Ingram could be a better fit for the 76ers.
The last time Philadelphia were in this position they chose Hall of Famer Allen Iverson first overall in 1996.
Their recent results have been mixed as they drafted Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid in the top three of the past two drafts. Embiid has yet to make his debut due to foot surgeries, while Okafor is coming off a solid rookie season.