Draft expert Chad Ford talks Ben Simmons, Sixers' needs


All signs point to the Sixers taking LSU forward Ben Simmons on Thursday night with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft.

What they choose to do with picks No. 24 and 26 and their logjam in the frontcourt is anybody's guess.

ESPN NBA draft expert Chad Ford said Friday during a conference call he sees the Sixers taking Simmons, and he also believes it's the right call.

"He’s the best talent in this draft, and they’re going to figure out how to make it work," Ford said. 

"Obviously, the Sixers need backcourt help and they need shooting and they’re going to have to address that other ways, be it the draft or free agency or what have you, but when you get the chance to draft a 6-foot-10, 240-pound point guard with elite court vision and who’s an elite athlete, you don’t pass that up, and you’re watching what LeBron is doing right now in the playoffs, and there’s just no answer for players that have those elite physical skills that then have guard basketball skills, and I think that’s what makes Simmons so attractive."

Ford mentioned the Sixers for a time considered Duke's Brandon Ingram — who was in Philadelphia for a visit recently — and Providence point guard Kris Dunn, but the team has decided Simmons has too much upside to pass on. 

As for what the Sixers do around Simmons, Ford mentioned scoring guards like Florida State's Malik Beasley and Syracuse's Malachi Richardson and international prospects that can shoot like Furkan Korkmaz and Juan Hernangomez at picks 24 and 26. He warned players in this area in the draft aren't meant to be starting-caliber players.

"I think there’s a number of options for them as they get down that far in the draft," Ford said.

"But you’re basically at 24 and 26 looking at players that are rotation players at best. These are not necessarily guys that you would ever think of starting. So I think free agency and trades are going to have to be the way the Sixers go to address those other needs."

A trade that has been floated around is one involving the Sixers sending Jahlil Okafor to the Boston Celtics for the No. 3 pick. On paper, it's a trade that would make sense for both teams. The Sixers have a glut of big men, while the Celtics are looking for forwards that can contribute immediately.

"[The Celtics] would prefer to trade this pick," Ford said. "They would prefer to take it, package it with some of the assets they have and bring in a young veteran who is an All-Star caliber player to really build this team around. That’s been the plan all along. I think the Celtics have been fairly open about it."

We'll have the answer to some of these questions soon enough. The NBA draft begins at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

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