Sixers make Simmons top pick

Louisiana State University forward Ben Simmons will be shooting hoops in 76ers colours next season after Philadelphia made him the first pick in the NBA draft.
Louisiana State University forward Ben Simmons will be shooting hoops in 76ers colours next season after Philadelphia made him the first pick in the NBA draft.PHOTO: REUTERS

Louisiana State forward becomes third Australian-born to be chosen first overall

NEW YORK • Philadelphia selected Ben Simmons as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft, making the Australian forward the first 76ers top pick since Allen Iverson 20 years ago.

"It feels amazing," Simmons said. "I can't even - my legs were shaking when I was on stage," he added.

"Anything you want to do, you can do. I've been wanting to do that since I was five, six, seven and I've finally accomplished that."

The 19-year-old forward from Melbourne is also the third Australian-born player taken first overall, joining Kyrie Irving (2011) and Andrew Bogut (2005).

The Los Angeles Lakers chose small forward Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick and the Boston Celtics made forward Jaylen Brown the third pick at the Barclays Centre arena.

Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists playing US college basketball last season at Louisiana State.

  • BEN SIMMONS' AT LOUISIANA STATE LAST SEASON

  • POINTS 19.2

    ASSISTS 4.8

    REBOUNDS 11.8

"I am happy the Sixers chose me. I have been working so hard to get to this point," he said.

"It honestly feels like all this pressure just has hopped off me. Now I can relax, but now I know where I'm going to be."

He has been on NBA scouts' radars since moving to the United States in 2013 to attend Florida's Montverde Academy.

Simmons conducted his only workout for the 76ers on Tuesday. He has skill at passing and ball handling as well as the size and strength to succeed as a big man scoring and grabbing rebounds.

He goes to a team that seem to be constantly rebuilding, compiling a dismal 47-199 win-loss record since 2013.

The 76ers are coached by Brett Brown, an American who guided the Australian Olympic squad to the 2012 London Olympic quarter-finals and took Australian league coach of the year honours in 1994 as he guided the North Melbourne Giants to a title.

Simmons, who shares an agent with the new three-time NBA champion LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has been working out in Ohio ahead of the draft.

He will turn 20 on July 20 shortly after he concludes his first professional games in the NBA Summer League.

Ingram, a forward with Duke University, averaged 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in his lone season with the Blue Devils.

It was the Lakers' first pick in the post-Kobe Bryant era.

"You kind of feel pressure, but it's a good pressure, of course," Ingram said. "It gives you motivation and the potential to be someone like Kobe Bryant and some of the greats in the league."

The Celtics turned a few heads when they picked Brown, who averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in his only season playing with the University of California, as their third pick. Boston had obtained the pick from Brooklyn in the 2013 Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade.

A couple of big trades on Thursday involved NBA veterans.

Forward Serge Ibaka and guard Victor Oladipo were the biggest names moved during the draft.

The Oklahoma City Thunder traded Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to the No. 11 overall pick, forward Domantas Sabonis.

Marquese Chriss was the highest draft pick who found himself on the move on Thursday. After being drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the No. 8 overall pick, he was dealt to the Phoenix Suns for the No. 13 pick and guard Bogdan Bogdanovic.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2016, with the headline 'Sixers make Simmons top pick'. Print Edition | Subscribe