Brett Brown says 76ers 'still digging in' on choice for No. 1 draft pick

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown says his franchise is still unsure whom it will select with the first pick in next month's NBA draft despite comparing Australian teenagerBen Simmonsto Magic Johnson and LeBron James.

The 76ers won Tuesday's NBA draft lottery, giving them the top pick in the June 23 draft, with the Los Angeles Lakers choosing second and the Boston Celtics third.

Brown, who was an assistant coach of the Melbourne Tigers in the late 1980s and 1990s when Simmons' father, Dave, was a star power forward/center on the NBL team, did not give too much away Wednesday about how the 76ers will use the first overall pick.

Simmons, 19, andDukeforwardBrandon Ingram, 18,are considered the top two candidates, but Brown said Philadelphia is still doing its homework.

"The truthful answer from our side is ... we are still digging in," he told ESPN Radio's Russillo and Kanell. "We are still acquiring information.

"The mock drafts obviously favor Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons. We get that. But we very much are still going through the process of trying to learn as much as we can. The responsibility of trying to get this right carries a lot of weight."

Brown did, however, rave about Simmons.

"He's got a hint of Magic, and at times you can see a younger LeBron where you are not sure what position he is," Brown told Fox Sports. "One moment you think he is a 4 (power forward), maybe he is a 3 (small forward), he looks comfortable handling the ball.

"When you say, 'What is his identifiable elite NBA skill?' most people will go immediately to passing.

"When you take that collection of comments, and you add it into a 6-foot-10 frame, the comparison to those two players could be a little reckless and ambitious, but there is no denying he really does come to the draft with a very unique skill package."

Brown, who also coached the 2012 Australian Olympic team in London, has known Simmons since he was a baby. He said his relationship with Simmons would only be a positive if the 76ers did choose him with the first pick of the draft.

"I think what it does do is, it probably favors more intimate knowledge of who he is," he told Russillo and Kanell. "I lived in the country for 17 years, I coached his dad for five years. I think it gives you better insight into what makes him kick.

"I think the Australian culture is something I'm acutely aware of, and I feel like for those reasons just allows us to have better information."

Brown also said he was not concerned by some scouts' negative assessment of Simmons' shooting. He pointed to how James and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard were able to work on their shot after entering the NBA.

"I'm just very aware of Ben's situation," said Brown, a former assistant for San Antonio. "I'm aware of his junior coaches throughout Ben's entire life, and when you look at his form -- no differently to when we drafted Kawhi Leonard with the Spurs -- one of the assessments we had to make was, was this shot transferable to the NBA? Was it a total rebuild or was it a little bit of a makeover?

"I think that his form isn't one that you have to blow up and start over. I think it can translate."

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