The Philadelphia 76ers selected LSU freshman Ben Simmons with the No. 1 pick Thursday night as the NBA draft opened with three straight freshmen.
The 76ers grabbed the versatile 6-foot-10 forward from Australia who averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists to become the only player in SEC history to finish in the top five in all three categories.
He comes with some questions — he made only one 3-pointer — but too much potential for the 76ers to pass up with their first No. 1 pick since taking Allen Iverson 20 years ago.
The last No. 1 pick from LSU was Shaquille O'Neal — who will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame along with Iverson in September.
The Los Angeles Lakers, picking second for the second consecutive year, took Duke's Brandon Ingram, who averaged 17.3 points as the ACC freshman of the year.
The Boston Celtics then began a busy night by picking California forward Jaylen Brown. Boston has eight picks in the two-round draft, starting with one it acquired from Brooklyn in 2013 in the deal that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets.
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Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram say they haven't been told who Philadelphia will take with the No. 1 pick, so all they can go on is what they've heard.
And Ingram was told not to do that.
"When I left the Sixers workout they told me not to listen to everybody, so I'm just listening to them and I don't really read the reports that come out about anything else," the Duke forward said.
The answer will come Thursday.
The freshmen are expected to be the top two selections in the NBA draft, and Simmons can't wait to hear his name called.
"It's surreal, but you know I'm looking forward to it," the LSU forward said. "I feel like I've put in enough work to get to this point and I think everything else will take care of itself."
Tucked in between a historic NBA Finals and a potential game-changing free agency period, the draft might be a little short on star power but not on drama. There were already a couple of trades Wednesday, with Chicago sending Derrick Rose to the Knicks, and there could be more action Thursday.
All eyes will be on Boston, which has the No. 3 pick and then seven more after that. If the Celtics want a veteran instead of adding more youth, packaging some of those picks might get it done.
"The teams know who they want and none of us really know that much," Washington's Marquese Chriss said. "I just think wherever I go it's a blessing and I'm going to be very happy."
Other things to watch on draft night from Brooklyn's Barclays Center:
THEY WILL BE BUSY
Philadelphia: 1st, 24th and 26th picks.
Boston: 3rd, 16th, 23rd, 31st, 35th, 45th, 51st and 58th picks.
Phoenix: 4th, 13th, 28th and 34th picks.
Denver: 7th, 15th, 19th, 53rd and 56th picks.
THE NEW YORK TEAMS WON'T
The loudest noise in last year's draft came when Knicks fans booed the selection of Kristaps Porzingis, the No. 4 pick who they later embraced in his All-Rookie team campaign. But as it stands there will be nothing for New Yorkers to boo — or cheer — as both have traded away what would have been lottery picks. The Nets sent what would have been the third pick to Boston as part of the 2013 trade that landed them Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, while the first of Denver's three first-round picks comes as remaining payment from the Carmelo Anthony trade five years ago.
BE THE 3
Whether the Celtics keep the pick or trade it, the intrigue seems to begin at No. 3. Jaylen Brown (California), Kris Dunn (Providence), Jamal Murray (Kentucky), Dragan Bender (Croatia) and Chriss all could be possibilities.
"We'll see what's going to happen tomorrow on draft night," said Bender, who played for Maccabi Tel Aviv. "You're always hoping for the best, for sure, and it's a lot of excitement, but you need to be realistic and wait for the moment."
ONE AND DONE
Simmons and Ingram could potentially top a list of nine freshmen that go in the first round, a group that would include Kentucky teammates Murray and Skal Labissiere. The record is 13 first-round freshmen, set last year.
Picking at No. 8 will be the Sacramento Kings, who are as much a part of the lottery as lucky charms. This is their 10th straight season picking in the lottery (the top 14 picks), the NBA's longest streak since the system to determine the No. 1 pick was instituted in 1985.