The 2016 NBA Draft won't come until Thursday night, but any suspense regarding the No. 1 overall pick has been removed by the team that owns it.
This morning Philadelphia 76ers informed camp of Ben Simmons he would be taken No. 1 in NBA Draft, league sources tell @clevelanddotcom.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 21, 2016
Simmons, who's already starred in an awesome NBA commercial, always seemed the favorite to go No. 1 overall in the two-man contest between him and Duke freshman Brandon Ingram, particularly after Sixers coach Brett Brown described Simmons as "a younger LeBron (James)" with "a hint of Magic (Johnson)."
At first glance, Ingram could appear to be a better fit in Philly. They need stronger defensive players and have been desperate for outside shooting for a few years now; Ingram is a big, smooth-stroking wing with potential to become a plus defender.
But more than shooting, the Sixers covet one thing: star potential. Simmons certainly has that, putting up bonkers numbers in his lone season at LSU and showing a unique blend of size, ball-handling, and passing vision.
Even if Philly were to make a need-based draft choice, they might require someone in Simmons' mold anyway.
Sure, they already have a glut of guys 6'10" and taller, but with a bevy of top-tier big man prospects already on the roster in Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Joel Embiid, what the team has been starved for these past few seasons is someone who can make a play. Despite being the size of a power forward, Simmons could very well end up starting at point guard for the 76ers next season. Or could at least play alongside a nominal point guard who is a secondary play-maker to Simmons.
He does come with knocks against him, however. Simmons has never been known as anything more than an average shooter, and he'll have to improve from outside to draw defenders closer to him on the perimeter and really exploit his passing ability. He also doesn't look to have the side-to-side quickness to be an elite defender, and despite great numbers in college, his Tigers failed to make the NCAA tournament after going 11-7 in a weak SEC.
Barring some crazy trade, expect the Los Angeles Lakers to take Ingram with the No. 2 pick.
After that, though, the next 20 picks or so are anybody's guess.