There will be no suspense when commissioner Adam Silver saunters up to the podium on Thursday to announce whom the 76ers will take with the no. 1 overall selection in the NBA draft: Philly basketball czar Bryan Colangelo has reportedly promised LSU forward Ben Simmons that he’ll be the top pick, which Simmons all but confirmed on Instagram:
This news hardly comes as a surprise to anyone who’s glanced at a mock draft recently, but the least surprised person of all might be Simmons himself. The Aussie has prepared to go no. 1 his whole life, and the Sixers’ decision can be seen as a validation of his methods. Let’s break them down:
1. He’s had a film crew documenting his every move since high school.
Back in January, we learned that Simmons and his older sister Emily had commissioned the production company Maggievision to shoot a documentary about his life in 2014. “I’ll be the first one to have a documentary that shows you high school, college, and then the draft,” he boasted to Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn. Not even LeBron James was this confident before he was drafted — the media dubbed him “The Chosen One” before he pursued any cinematic opportunities. Needless to say, this isn’t something you do if you don’t think you’re going no. 1.
2. He got the hell out of Australia as soon as he could.
No international prospect outside the NCAA has gone no. 1 since Andrea Bargnani in 2006, so Simmons was wise to move to Florida in 2013. At Montverde Academy, he won a few national championships and made himself as visible as possible by dominating teams that talent evaluators didn’t need a passport to scout.
3. He signed with Klutch Sports super-agent Rich Paul.
Rich Paul gets his clients paid, largely because he’s in business with LeBron and (presumably) the Illuminati. And, oh yeah, the aforementioned Emily works for LeBron’s marketing company, LRMR. When it comes to branding yourself in the NBA, it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters, and Simmons was shrewd enough to partner with some of the league’s most powerful figures. Regardless of his on-court performance, he’s primed to enjoy a career of secret handshakes, exorbitant contracts, and #RWTW hashtags.
4. He spent the spring getting swole as shit.
The idea of a player gaining “15 pounds of muscle” has become such a common offseason story line that NBA writer Lang Whitaker coined the term MUSCLEWATCH to describe the phenomenon. Well, Simmons upped the ante by gaining 20 pounds of muscle since March, because 15 apparently wasn’t good enough for a no. 1 pick. Check out his Instagram feed for the relevant “before” and “after” photos — dude should join Eddie Lacy and become a P90X spokesman.
5. He announced that he won’t compete in the Rio Olympics.
Pulling out of the Rio Games has become all the rage in the NBA, and Simmons jumped on this bandwagon all the way back in April. According to Paul, Simmons’s reason for doing so was to “concentrate fully on his NBA activities,” which is a very no. 1 pick-y thing to say, but he probably also didn’t feel like freezing his sperm.
An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that no international prospect has been drafted no. 1 in the NBA since Andrea Bargnani in 2006. That sentence has been edited to reflect the subsequent no. 1 selections of Canadians Anthony Bennett (2013) and Andrew Wiggins (2014).