The 2016 NBA Draft is about a month away with the Philadelphia 76ers already on the clock as the owners of the number one pick. All signs point to the 76ers selecting Australian phenom Ben Simmons out of LSU with the top pick on June 23, but nothing is set in stone with Duke’s Brandon Ingram potentially becoming the more intriguing prospect for Philadelphia in the coming weeks.
Over the past year or so, it has been rumored Simmons wants to end up with the Los Angeles Lakers on draft day. Simmons was seen in a Snapchat video last year saying he’ll play for LSU and the following year he’ll be playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
It comes as no surprise that Simmons’ comments led to speculation about the versatile forward forcing his way to Los Angeles after one season at LSU. Although the speculation will almost certainly continue in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo isn’t buying it rumors about Simmons’ intentions, via Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck:
From our interview today on @br_radio, here's Bryan Colangelo on rumors of Ben Simmons trying to steer his way to LA pic.twitter.com/DENe9lRJjE
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 22, 2016
There are a few reasons to believe Simmons would want to end up with the Lakers over the 76ers next month. The obvious reason is Los Angeles is still an attractive destination, and it seems like he’s fond of the franchise. Although the team has missed the playoffs for three years in a row, many believe the Lakers have a better chance of turning things around in the near future opposed to the 76ers who end up hoping for the number one pick in the draft on an annual basis.
Another reason Simmons may want to steer his way to Los Angeles is reuniting with his friend and former high school teammate, D’Angelo Russell. These two talented young players have maintained a close relationship since winning back-to-back National Championships at Montverde Academy and more than likely have talked about joining forces in purple and gold.
Last week, it was reported that Simmons hopes to land with the Lakers because it will help with a pending shoe endorsement deal with Nike. Adidas is currently offering more money to sign Simmons, but the LSU product appears to want to make a deal with Nike, and the Los Angeles market may force the company to match Adidas’ offer.
At this point, the safe bet is Simmons ends up with the 76ers at number one, and the Lakers select Ingram with the second overall pick. A number of things can change in the coming weeks to change the consensus on who goes one and two in the draft, but Simmons appears to be Philadelphia bound unless he’s actually intent on going to Los Angeles and comes up with a way to force the issue.