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.”
Those are the expectations that come with 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 on Thursday. 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 the 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 news 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, playing all five positions at some point.
He is a superb ballhandler 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 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.”