Sixers fans hope that their enduring a third consecutive season of horrific basketball is rewarded at the 2016 NBA draft with Louisiana State freshman Ben Simmons — a 6-10, 240-pound forward from Melbourne, Australia.

About 15 years ago, it still would have been an anomaly that a kid born and raised in the land Down Under would be considered the top-rated NBA prospect.

Today, it is more an affirmation that, after soccer, basketball is the most popular sport internationally.

If Simmons is indeed drafted No. 1 overall, it will be the third time in four years that an international has been the first player selected.

The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Canadians Anthony Bennett No. 1 in 2013 and Andrew Wiggins in 2014.

Minnesota rookie Karl-Anthony Towns was born and raised in New Jersey, but his mother is from the Dominican Republic and he played for that nation at the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament.

Even if the Sixers are not in a position to draft Simmons, some significant talent added to their young roster this summer will likely have roots outside of the United States.

Depending on where other teams fall in the order, the Sixers could have as many as four first-round picks in June.

Beyond Simmons, some of the top prospects expected to be available for the draft include Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Dragan Bender (Croatia), Oklahoma senior shooting guard Buddy Hield (Bahamas), Kentucky freshman point guard Jamal Murray (Canada) and freshman center Skal Labissiere (Haiti) and Utah sophomore center Jakob Poeltl (Austria).

Others include Anadolu Efes shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz (Turkey), Mega Leks swingman Timothe Luwawu (France), Kansas freshman forward Cheick Diallo (Mali), Spo Rouen forward Guerschon Yabusele (France).

Several play positions of need for the Sixers.

The international talent explosion began following the success of the "Dream Team" at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

That team of greats became a global pop-culture icon, and the NBA, which always had a few internationals here and there, put a lot of effort into global marketing and exposure.

For the second straight season, the NBA had 100 international players make opening-night rosters. All 30 teams had an international, led by Toronto, with seven.

Canada led the league with 12 internationals, tying a record. Africa (10), Brazil (nine) and Australia (eight) had individual records.

Despite the recent surge, the NBA has a long history in top draft picks who were born abroad.

Mychael Thompson, father of current Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson, was born in the Bahamas and became the first foreign-born No. 1 overall pick in 1978 when Portland picked him out of the University of Minnesota.

Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon was still a citizen of Nigeria when the Houston Rockets picked him No. 1 out of the University of Houston.

New York Knicks and Georgetown center Patrick Ewing (1985) was born in and lived in Kingston, Jamaica, until he was 12.

In 2002, the Rockets made Shanghai Sharks center Yao Ming (China) the first international player who did not play at a college in the United States the top pick.

Since Yao, five players with foreign nationalities, including Towns, have been drafted No. 1.

The 2014 draft had three international players: Wiggins, Sixers center Joel Embiid (Cameroon) and Utah point guard Dante Exxum (Australia) drafted in the top five.

The Sixers also worked a draft-night deal to acquire the rights to Croatian forward Dario Saric, a 2014 lottery pick, and last summer, acquired guard Nik Stauskas (Canada), who had been picked eight overall by Sacramento in 2015.