NBA: 76ers tell Simmons he is their pick

Australian NBA draft prospect Ben Simmons. Photo / Getty Images
Australian NBA draft prospect Ben Simmons. Photo / Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers predict Ben Simmons will have an almost immediate impact in the NBA and they're banking on being the biggest beneficiary.

The Sixers have reportedly told the teenage Australian phenomenon they will make him the No.1 overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday (Friday NZT).

Simmons worked out for the team on Tuesday, giving staff and owners a first-hand look at his great talent, versatility and potential, having appeared uninterested in working out for them only a week earlier.

Bryan Colangelo, the Sixers' president of basketball operations, felt his appearance "closed the chapter" on any doubt about Simmons' willingness to join lowly but rebuilding Philadelphia, who had the worst record in the NBA in the just-completed season.

"It also kind of speaks to the fact that Ben and his representative wanted to make sure that we were aware they want to be the No.1 pick and would like to be considered here in Philadelphia," he said.

The Sixers have previously worked out Duke forward Brandon Ingram, who is tipped to go to the LA Lakers with the second pick.

Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals this past season as a first-year college player at Louisiana State University.

The 208cm forward's excellent ball-handling skills and his ability to guard multiple positions will be a boon for the 76ers, who have been light on quality distributors in recent years.

Over the past three seasons they've accumulated a 47-199 record, off the back of a 10-72 record last season - just one game better than the all-time worst in an 82-game campaign.

But the pain has allowed them to assemble a roster boasting one of the NBA's most promising group of young big men, with Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid having been taken with the No.3 pick in the past two drafts and Nerlens Noel at pick six in 2013.

The weight of expectation will fall heavily on whomever they pick on Thursday, especially Simmons.

"You're talking about a substantial young man that is going to have an impact physically at this level almost immediately," Colangelo said.

"He (Simmons) has got an NBA body and he's got some skills that are NBA skills, definable NBA skills. When you put that size and skill together, its generally a pretty good package."

Simmons has long been linked with the Sixers and is well-known by their coach, former Australian Boomers mentor Brett Brown.

Brown coached his US-born father Dave Simmons in the NBL in the late 1980s and feels the family connection gives the Sixers a big advantage.

"I mean how can it not be?" Brown told WIP radio in Philadelphia.

"You can't make up the history that I've had with their family and then you fast forward it to 2016 - sort of connecting the dots to end up here is very unusual.

"He's in a position not only to be selected first but we're in a position where the ping pong ball fell our way and we have an opportunity to choose him.

"Knowledge of his background, his coaches, people that were around him, his family I feel like how can that not be an advantage and in many ways, a great advantage."

- AAP

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