Australian Ben Simmons snapped up by Philadelphia 76ers with first pick of NBA draft

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 June, 2016, 9:53am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 June, 2016, 9:53am

The Philadelphia 76ers added to their youthful core with a versatile big man by taking Australian Ben Simmons from Louisiana State University with the first overall pick of the 2016 NBA draft on Thursday.

The 19-year-old forward, an excellent rebounder who is good in transition as a scorer or passer, joins a Philadelphia team that finished last overall with a 10-71 record during the NBA’s 2015-16 season.

Simmons, the first Australian to be taken with the top pick since the Utah Jazz selected Andrew Bogut in 2005, averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists for LSU in his only college season.

“It’s a weight off my chest,” said the 6-foot-10-inch, 245-pound Simmons, who was widely expected to go first overall.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while, so I’m glad I’ve made history, not only for myself but my family and Australian basketball.”

The Los Angeles Lakers followed with the second pick, the first choice in their post-Kobe Bryant era, and took shooting guard Brandon Ingram from Duke University.

Ingram, a good passer and excellent three-point shooter with great court awareness, is a slender 6-9 and scored 17.3 points a game for Duke along with 6.8 rebounds on average.

Asked about concerns that he needed to bulk up to compete in the NBA, Ingram said: “I am only 18. The weight is going to come naturally. But I am focused on getting stronger right now.

“I have the inner strength that no one knows about and I am just continuing to get stronger each and every day.”

The Boston Celtics chose small forward Jaylen Brown of California third overall, while the Phoenix Suns used the fourth pick on Croatian power forward Dragen Bender, a 7-footer who has been playing for Ironi Ramat Gan in Israel.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, who have four players under the age of 23 logging heavy minutes, used the fifth pick to take point guard Kris Dunn of Providence.

The New Orleans Pelicans made shooting guard Buddy Hield of Oklahoma the sixth pick before the Denver Nuggets took Canadian Jamal Murray, who averaged 20 points for Kentucky, at No 7.

Taken eighth by the Sacramento Kings was Marquese Chriss, a forward from Washington, with Austrian Jakob Poelti, a centre from Utah, going ninth to the Toronto Raptors.

Rounding out the top 10 was Sudanese-Australian 7-footer Thon Maker, who has been playing at Canada’s Athlete Institute and was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks.