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76ers Hoping To Finally Get it Right with Ben Simmons
- Updated: June 24, 2016
The jury may still be out on the last few first round selections by the Philadelphia 76ers, but it is no secret that they needed to get this one right from the get-go. By choosing Ben Simmons with the top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, it certainly appears that they have the closest to a ‘sure thing’ that was available this time around.
Leading up to Thursday night at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo was publicly shopping the Sixers’ last three first round picks to the highest bidder. He was looking to move at least one of the trio of centers he inherited on the roster – Jahlil Okafor (2015), Joel Embiid (2014) and Nerlens Noel (2013, via a trade with the then-New Orleans Hornets). But at the start of the festivities at the home arena of the Brooklyn Nets, no deals had been made and as expected, Colangelo tabbed the 6’10” 240-pound small forward freshman from LSU.
“There’s a bunch of great people (here),” said Simmons in a press conference. “Great owners, great players, young team. And, of course, a great coach in Brett Brown. It’s a team on the upward swing.”
The Sixers had a brutal 2015-16 season (10-72) and have not made a playoff appearance in the last four years. Much of their lack of success is injury related, as Embiid has yet to play a minute as a pro due to a broken right foot and subsequent setbacks while recovering, Noel missed the 2014-15 campaign recovering from a torn ACL suffered while playing for the University of Kentucky and Okafor’s rocky rookie season was cut short by a torn meniscus.
If the Sixers stand pat with all of these young players, their front court will be deep and talented, as both Okafor and Noel are versatile enough to play either the ‘five’ or ‘four.’ And with Simmons being plugged in at the small forward, there is a lot of promise and hopefully good days ahead for the downtrodden franchise. With so much youth, they should be a team that will be quick and tough going the other way, something that Simmons feels is a strong point of his game.
“I’m somebody who can push the ball in transition, point forward style of play, being 6’10” and able to handle the ball,” the overall first selection explained.
So after many questions for three years, the 76ers hope to finally have a solid answer.