Any suspense about who the Philadelphia 76ers would take with the No. 1 pick in Thursday's NBA draft has apparently ended, as Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com reported the 76ers have informed Ben Simmons he will be their selection.
ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst confirmed Philadelphia told Simmons he will be drafted first overall.
Simmons himself hinted at the news in a post on his Instagram page:
Haynes' and Windhorst's reports will not come as a surprise to most fans, as there's really been no doubt this past year that Simmons would be the No. 1 pick.
While Simmons hasn't been universally regarded as the top draft prospect by analysts, he is overwhelmingly regarded as the best talent in the 2016 class.
In his latest big board, which had Simmons at No. 1 ahead of Duke's Brandon Ingram, ESPN.com's Chad Ford noted the former LSU star has used his prep time to work on various elements of his game:
Simmons has spent the past two months out of the spotlight working on his game in Cleveland. The no-distractions move appears to be paying off.
I was in Cleveland last week at one of his private workouts. He has added strength, improved his jump shot and worked hard to prepare for summer league.
Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday that Simmons was in Philadelphia for a workout with the Sixers.
The 76ers have been a sinking ship for years, owning a record of 47-199 over the last three seasons. This is the first time they have had the No. 1 overall pick during this never-ending rebuilding project, so taking the player they regard as the top overall talent is the best move to pull them out of their malaise.
Simmons will be the new face of basketball in Philadelphia. It's a heavy burden to bear for any player, especially one who is just 19 years old, but Simmons' marriage to the 76ers has the potential to work out great for both sides.
The Sixers have other quality pieces to build around, including Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor (assuming neither player is traded). Getting the superstar to play with them will help make the team a playoff contender for the first time since 2012.