PHILADELPHIA — No matter what position he ends up playing, Ben Simmons is going to be the centerpiece of the Philadelphia 76ers’ offense.
“He’s a facilitator, a distributor and he’s going to have the ball in his hands a lot,” said Bryan Colangelo, the team’s president of basketball operations. “He’s going to make everyone on the floor better. He’s going to make our entire team better.”
It’s the expectations of being the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, something that only happens about once a generation in Philadelphia.
The 20-year-old Australian was the first of three first-round picks taken by the Sixers Thursday night. Despite a collection of players drafted in the lottery in recent years, Philadelphia is turning to Simmons to be the focal point.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown has a challenge in finding where Simmons, a 6-foot-10 former LSU forward will play in the NBA.
The Sixers are flush with big men, and Simmons is just another big body. However, they lack depth in the backcourt, meaning Simmons could be asked to play guard despite his size.
Simmons doesn’t necessarily need a position, he said confidently at his introductory press conference.
“I can play anywhere on the floor and contribute,” he said. “You can put me anywhere one-through-five on either offense or defense.”
And it’s very likely he’ll be an amoeba of sorts for Brown and play all five positions at one point or another.
He is a superb ball handler for his size and is an excellent passer. He also can drive to the basket and has an NBA-ready body to play physically underneath. The only thing lacking in his game at the moment is a consistent jump shot, but it is something the Sixers feel can be developed, and Brown has a great relationship already with Simmons that the team is confident he is the coach who can develop it.
Brown coached Simmons’ father, Dave, in Australia in the 1990s and got to know Ben through that relationship.
Ben Simmons said he feels really comfortable with Brown because of that pre-existing relationship and said he couldn’t ask for a better scenario to begin his professional career.
“It’s a very special situation,” Simmons said. “This is very rare, but it was the perfect timing for me. I’m definitely in the right situation.”
The Sixers also added a pair of international prospects, selecting forward Timothe Luwawu from France with the No. 24 selection and, two picks later, shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz of Turkey. In Turkey, Korkmaz was a teammate of 2014 draft pick Dario Saric, who is expected to join the Sixers next season.
Luwawu was also at the press conference Friday and stated that being drafted by the 76ers was the best day of his life.
“These players ... are just a part of the story as it unfolds,” Colangelo said. “We’re excited about our future and we can’t wait to get started.”