Being taken by Philadelphia 76ers in NBA draft won’t be disaster for Ben Simmons

The top five contenders for Ben Simmons. Photo: Getty Images Long season: Head coach Brett Brown signals a play for Philadelphia. Photo: Scott Halleran

Roar of approval: LSU forward Ben Simmons reacts to a dunk. Photo: Stacy Revere

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Ben Simmons’ likely selection by Philadelphia won’t necessarily translate into years of pain at a franchise which has been an embarrassment to the NBA over the past three seasons.

The Philadelphia Experiment of playing a borderline D-League roster since the start of the 2013-14 season is coming to a close.

At long last, the 76ers are on the upswing of their “rebuilding” process – last month they hired USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo as “Special Advisor to the Managing General Partner and Chairman of Basketball Operations” and NBA veteran Mike D’Antoni as associate head coach.

That doesn’t mean the end of Simmons’ potential Australian ally Brett Brown at the Sixers as the former Boomers coach received a two-year coaching extension.

With lottery pick guard Dario Saric heading to the city of brotherly love after being stashed away in Europe for the past two years, Joel Embiid likely to finally make his debut next season, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor finding their feet and more cap space than any team in history, the Sixers are primed to start winning.

If Simmons lands in Philadelphia, he would form a young front-court trio alongside Noel and Okafor with Embiid offering back-up in his long-delayed rookie campaign. Similar to Utah last year when Enes Kanter became expendable after fellow big men Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert improved, the Sixers would trade away whichever of the foursome doesn’t excel for more picks or a veteran presence.

Philadelphia (5-38) are in the box seat to win the Simmons Sweepstakes but are by no means home and hosed. Despite their grand tanking plan, they haven’t finished with the worst record in the league. Last year they were 18-64 to be third worst, “beaten” by Minnesota, and the year before they were second (19-63) behind Milwaukee but dropped to third in the draft after Cleveland beat the odds.

This season, Philly are four games behind (and by behind, that should be ahead) of the Lakers for the worst record. That makes them a 25 per cent chance, the Lakers 19.9 with Boston, holding Brooklyn’s pick, next best at 15.6.

If he ends up a Laker, he would form a nucleus alongside fellow forward Julius Randle and back-court duo Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell in the post-Kobe Bryant era or if he becomes a Celtic, he would give Boston the franchise star they need after acquiring many solid role players in recent drafts.

The Timberwolves are 11.9 per cent likely to hit the jackpot, Phoenix are 8.8 and New Orleans 6.3 per cent. The other eight lottery teams will be less than a one in 20 shot.

Simmons will have to overcome the curse of the consensus pick to become the No.1 selection. The last three players who were expected to top the top draft six months out from the big day have not been chosen first.

In 2013, Noel seemed a shoo-in to be snapped up by Cleveland but the Kentucky tyro suffered a knee injury, slid to sixth, was taken by New Orleans and traded to Philadelphia for All Star point guard Jrue Holiday, then sat out a year to repair his ACL. The Cavaliers whiffed on Anthony Bennett, the biggest bust in draft history – worse than Greg Oden without even suffering serious injuries. Purple Reign @1futurepic.twitter老域名出售/sIRVLcJDTa— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) January 19, 2016

Embiid looked set to be No.1 the following year but injuries struck towards the end of his college season at Kansas and the Cameroonian giant has not played since – he was drafted third by Philadelphia. The Cavaliers bypassed Embiid for a sure thing in Andrew Wiggins but had to give him up to the Timberwolves, also offloading Bennett in the process, so the returning LeBron James could have Kevin Love by his side.

And last year it looked like Okafor would be the top selection but the Duke big man was swamped in the final months of the college season by Kentucky behemoth Karl-Anthony Towns, whose name was first read out by commissioner Adam Silver on draft day.

Despite the hype surrounding Simmons’ standout performances for LSU, he’s still not a certainty to be the top pick with Duke forward Brandon Ingram and University of California swingman Jaylen Brown attracting plenty of admirers among scouts.

But he is likely to overcome the recent hoodoo and live up to his pre-draft No.1 status, the first consensus pick to do so since another multi-skilled forward with a similarly athletic all-round game, New Orleans star Anthony Davis in 2012. It would be a brave franchise to pass on Simmons.

And no fan base deserves to strike it lucky with Simmons than the Sixers – any supporter who has forked out their hard-earned cash for a season pass over the past three years of on-court ineptitude deserves half-priced tickets for life.

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