NEW YORK, USA – Philadelphia selected Ben Simmons with the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, making the Australian forward the first 76ers top pick since Allen Iverson 20 years ago.
The 19-year-old playmaker from Melbourne is also the third Australian-born player taken first overall, joining Kyrie Irving (2011) and Andrew Bogut (2005).
“It is amazing,” Simmons said. “I am happy the Sixers chose me. I have been working so hard to get to this point.”
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 Center arena.
Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists playing US college basketball last season at Louisiana State.
He has been on the radar of NBA scouts since moving to the United States in 2013 to attend Florida’s Montverde Academy.
Simmons conducted his only workout on Tuesday for the 76ers. He has skill at passing and ballhandling as well as the size and strength to succeed as a big man scoring and grabbing rebounds.
Simmons goes to a team that seems to be constantly rebuilding, compiling a dismal 47-199 won-loss record since 2013.
The 76ers, who have not had the top pick in the draft since they chose star guard Iverson in 1996, are coached by Brett Brown, an American who guided the Aussie Olympic squad to the 2012 London Olympic quarter-finals and took Australian league coach of the year honors in 1994 as he guided the North Melbourne Giants to a title.
Simmons, who has the same agent as new 3-time NBA champion LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has been working out in the Ohio city ahead of the draft.
Simmons will turn 20 on July 20, shortly after he concludes his first pro games in the NBA Summer League.
Duke University forward Ingram was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the second pick. Ingram averaged 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in his lone season with the Blue Devils.
The Celtics had obtained the pick from Brooklyn in the 2013 Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade. Brown averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in his only season with California.
With the fourth pick, the Suns selected Bosnian forward Dragan Bender, who averaged 14.4 points and 10.4 rebounds in 25 games for Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Bender is the highest player ever picked from his homeland, overtaking Mario Hezonja who was chosen fifth in 2015.
Minnesota had the fifth pick and used it on Providence guard Kris Dunn. Dunn was a two-time Big East Player of the year and defensive player of the year. – Rappler.com