76ers reportedly ‘leaning heavily toward’ drafting Ben Simmons with the No. 1 pick

Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram?

That is the decision facing the Philadelphia 76ers now that they have possession of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. The two youngsters are in a class of their own above everyone else in this year’s draft class, making the decision a great “problem” to have.

For the Los Angeles Lakers, their choice is easy. After landing the No. 2 pick for the second consecutive season, they will presumably take whoever the Sixers elect not to. Both players appear to be neck-and-neck, jockeying for the No. 1 position in everyone’s NBA mock drafts.

While many believe Ingram is an ideal fit with both the 76ers and Lakers because of his massive shooting advantage over Simmons, Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding has heard that it is actually the LSU forward that could be the first name called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver on June 23 (h/t Silver Screen and Roll’s Harrison Faigen).

The Philadelphia 76ers are leaning heavily toward taking Simmons on June 23, according to league sources, with the No. 1 overall pick they landed in the NBA draft lottery Tuesday night.

That would set the Los Angeles Lakers up at No. 2 with Ingram, who already wowed them in his May 11 interview on opening day of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Ingram’s drive to be great and dedication to winning, according to sources, resonated deeply with the Lakers’ front-office contingent.

Ding also notes the connections that the Sixers have to Simmons’ family. Head coach Brett Brown used to coach Simmons’ father in Australia, so that adds a very interesting dynamic to the belief that the 19-year-old might try to force his way to Los Angeles to reunite with old high school teammate D’Angelo Russell.

A lot of people consider Simmons to be the best player in the draft with the most superstar potential, but Ingram fits seamlessly in just about any offense, no matter the personnel. Despite Simmons looking like a man among boys in his lone season at LSU, there are also plenty of people that believe Ingram is the top prospect of this draft.

The Lakers find themselves in a great position here, not having to decide between the two of them. That decision will be made for them by Philly, making general manager Mitch Kupchak’s job much easier than it was yesterday when he nervously awaited to see if the team would even have this pick to use.

Los Angeles has glaring roster holes at small forward and center, and Ingram would be a terrific solution at the three. There are questions as to how Simmons and Julius Randle would coexist on the floor together, given the lack of consistent midrange or perimeter shooting from either. But the athleticism and playmaking ability from Simmons would give new head coach Luke Walton a lot to work with.

The Lakers will certainly do their due diligence with the other top prospects in this year’s draft class, but their decision is easy: Take the player that Philadelphia doesn’t. With still over a month until the 2016 NBA Draft officially starts, anything can change in an instant, but for now, it appears Brandon Ingram may find himself in purple and gold next season.

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