Bryan Colangelo: Working out Ben Simmons ‘little more meaningful than just watching videotape'

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Ben Simmons slipped on a Sixers jersey Tuesday morning for what could be the first of many times.

The Sixers hosted a private workout for Simmons at their practice facility two days ahead of the NBA draft. They hold the No. 1 pick and reportedly informed Simmons they will be selecting him with it Thursday evening. 

After observing Simmons from afar at games, this was the Sixers' first opportunity to have a front-row seat. The Sixers' staff and owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer were in attendance. Simmons went through individual drills that gave them a better look at his athleticism, offensive mechanics and pick-and-roll skills. 

“He’s all of 6-10 and 242 pounds,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said. “You’re talking about a substantial young man that is going to have an impact physically at this level almost immediately. He’s got an NBA body and he’s got some skills that are NBA skills, definable NBA skills. When you put that size and skill together, it’s generally a pretty good package.”

Simmons, 19, averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for LSU last season as a freshman. 

The Sixers had been working during the draft process to arrange a workout with the LSU forward. Last week they met with him for the first time for a dinner in Cleveland prior to Game 6 of the NBA Finals. There had been speculation as to whether or not Simmons wanted to play for the Sixers. Colangelo waived off the talk of red flags, and reiterated Simmons’ interest following the workout. 

“I think it was most important for us to kind of close the chapter on any doubt that Ben or [his agent Rich Paul] would want to have Ben here in Philadelphia,” Colangelo said.

Colangelo also noted, “I think it also kind of speaks to the fact that Ben and his representative wanted to make sure that we were aware they want to be the number one pick and would like to be considered here in Philadelphia.” 

The Sixers previously worked out Duke forward Brandon Ingram, who is also projected as a top-two pick. Colangelo said the Sixers and Lakers, who hold the second selection, were the only teams to receive Ingram’s medical evaluation. As for Simmons, he believes the Sixers “might be” the only team to obtain that information.

“I’m glad that we were in a position to put both candidates in front of our ownership and our staff in a situation where they could interact with our coaches in a way that’s a little more meaningful than just watching videotape,” Colangelo said. 

With the draft taking place Thursday night, Colangelo said the Sixers are “pretty close to the finish with respect to our preparations.” After the Sixers accumulated a record of 47-199 over the last three seasons — and endured a 10-72 campaign last season — there are high expectations for the player selected first overall. 

“It’s always important to get it right, but this is a big one for the organization,” Colangelo said.

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