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Sports

Simmons, Ingram and Intrigue Highlight Thursday's NBA Draft

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

Duke's Brandon Ingram (14) dribbles the ball as Virginia Tech's Shane Henry (0) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, North Carolina, photo: AP/Gerry Broome
1 year ago

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.”

FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2016 file photo, LSU's Ben Simmons drives to the basket against Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Auburn, Ala. Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram look to be the first two picks in the NBA draft, leaving most of the drama Thursday night around who be the No. 3 pick. (Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDIT

LSU’s Ben Simmons drives to the basket against Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Auburn, Alabama. Photo: Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News, via AP

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.

THEM AGAIN?

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.

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