76ers take Ben Simmons with No. 1 pick, but wait on trades

NEW YORK - Simmons it is.

The 76ers did as most observers of the NBA draft expected Thursday night and chose power forward Ben Simmons of Louisiana State University with the first overall pick.

More surprising was that the Sixers made no trades after choosing Simmons, though some pre-draft scenarios will live through the summer.

"We didn't feel any of those trade scenarios would have put us in a position we would want to be going forward, so we took a patient approach and passed on a few opportunities we could have reached," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said.

Simmons is the first No. 1 pick taken by the Sixers since 1996, when they took Allen Iverson out of Georgetown. They also selected Doug Collins first overall in 1973.

The 19-year-old is also the third player born in Melbourne, Australia, to be taken first overall in the last 12 years, joining Kyrie Irving (2011) and Andrew Bogut (2005).

Poll

Thumbs up or down on the 76ers' draft-day decisions?

"I'm happy to be part of the [NBA] family now," Simmons said, "It's a weight off my chest. 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 Sixers added swingman Timothe Luwawu (France) with the 24th overall pick at the Barclays Center. Then they picked guard Furkan Korkmaz (Turkey) two spots later. Korkmaz, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, is a teammate of Dario Saric's with Anadolu Efes in the Turkish Basketball Super League. Luwawu played for KK Mega Leks in Serbia. Both players are under contract next season but could negotiate buyouts.

"I'm ready to play," Luwawu said of the NBA. "Like I said before, I improved this year, and I just want to show everybody that I can play, and more now than ever."

Colangelo seemed noncommittal about the late-round picks' playing in the NBA next season.

People were excited about the Sixers' possibly acquiring at least one guard to go with the first overall pick. But this wasn't what they expected.

The Sixers were expected to take Simmons with the first pick. They were also looking to move up in the draft, preferably into the top eight. The team was widely known to be shopping players, primarily centers Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. They were also dangling their two late first-round picks.

They targeted the Boston Celtics' third overall pick with the hope of selecting Providence point guard Kris Dunn. Word out of Boston was that the Sixers wanted too much to make the deal. NBA sources indicated that the Sixers asked for Boston's third and 16th picks. The Sixers reportedly offered Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington, and the 24th and 26th picks.

"There were numerous trade scenarios we looked at," Colangelo said. 

He said a number of those trades are still alive based on the cap flexibility the Sixers have.

They were unable to get Dunn or any of the draft's other top guards, but they landed a franchise player in Simmons.

The applause from the horde of Sixers fans here let Simmons know that he was a part of their family even before his name was called. A fan in a red Maurice Cheeks Sixers jersey, who appeared to be in his 50s, yelled something in Simmons' direction once commissioner Adam Silver announced that the team was on the clock.

Then the place erupted with what appeared to a simultaneous "Yeah" once his name was called. Simmons also received congratulatory tweets from his new Sixers teammates Joel Embiid, Nik Stauskas, and Robert Covington.

Simmons' arrival may come at the perfect time for the Sixers, who finished 10-72 last season, part of a process that featured tanking and a 47-199 record over the last three seasons.

At 6-foot-10 and 243 pounds, Simmons is expected to have an immediate impact on the Sixers. Although he has been criticized for his lack of an outside shooting game, he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.0 steals as a freshman last season at LSU.

"I think you can see some Draymond [Green] usage in him in how he can rebound and lead a break," Brown said, comparing Simmons to the Golden State Warriors all-star.

Simmons worked out for the Sixers on Tuesday - they were the only team for which he worked out - and Colangelo gushed afterward. Colangelo said Simmons "is going to have an impact physically at this level almost immediately."

After that workout, Simmons took to Instagram and posted a photo of himself in a Sixers workout uniform over the caption "Trust the process."

Simmons grew up in Australia before moving to Florida, and his family already has a relationship with Brown, who coached Simmons' father, Dave, for several seasons in the Australian National Basketball League.

Simmons' stock appeared to dip after LSU went 19-14 last season and did not qualify for the NCAA tournament, and Simmons failed to be a difference maker. Then there was chatter that he wanted to be drafted at No. 2 by the Lakers.

"Who said that?" Simmons said Wednesday. "That never came from me."

His individual play was still so superb that talk of his college team's failure and the Lakers' rumors faded. He later made it clear that he wanted to be the No. 1 pick.

How Simmons fits in with the Sixers on the court is to be determined, but unlike several recent Sixers top picks, he will be expected to produce immediately.

"Definitely, me and [Sixers center] Joel Embiid have known each other since high school," Simmons said. "So we've had the bond for a while. . . . I think we definitely play well together."

kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.philly.com/sixersblog