NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are the consensus cream of the crop in Thursday’s NBA Draft, making the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers the likely winners of the night that can shape league futures.
The 76ers own the first choice and reports have surfaced that they have settled on Simmons, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Louisiana State University, who can grab a defensive rebound and lead the break with his great passing touch.
“He’s got an NBA body and he’s got some skills that are NBA skills, definable NBA skills,” 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said. “When you put that size and skill together, it’s generally a pretty good package.”
The Sixers have made a fetish of collecting promising young talent with high draft picks from poor regular season records, but through injuries and a lack of veteran presence on the team have struggled to improve on the court.
Philadelphia also hold the 24th and 26th picks of the first round.
Selecting second are the Los Angeles Lakers, who begin their post-Kobe Bryant era with the expected selection of Duke University’s Ingram, who is a scorer from the small forward position with a good jump shot and strong moves to the hoop.
There are a batch of other highly regarded prospects that follow, though they seem a notch below Simmons and Ingram as projected impact players.
The next tier of incoming talent include shooting guards Jamal Murray of Kentucky, Buddy Hield of Oklahoma and Jaylen Brown of California.
The top point guard from the college ranks is projected to be Kris Dunn of Providence, while highly touted power forwards include Dragan Bender of Israel and Marquese Chriss of Washington.
The Boston Celtics, who own eight picks in Thursday’s two-round draft, have the No. 3 overall pick, and may be shopping that selection to add some NBA-ready players.
Gonzaga’s 6-foot-10 forward Domantas Sabonis, son of former Lithuanian Olympian and NBA star Arvidas Sabonis, is another coveted player.
The top center in the draft is likely to be 7-foot-1 Jakob Poeltl of Austria, who was a second-team all-American during his college days at Utah, where he averaged 17.2 points and 9.1 rebounds a game.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue