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Sixers win lottery, get top overall draft pick

NEW YORK - Will they go with Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram? That's the decision 76ers will have to make with the first pick in the NBA draft on June 23.

NEW YORK - Will they go with Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram?

That's the decision 76ers will have to make with the first pick in the NBA draft on June 23.

Will they decide that Simmons is a point forward they can't possibly pass up? Or will they conclude that the long, athletic and better-shooting Ingram is a better fit?

"You are going to have to ask that question on June 23 when we are ready to announce it," said Bryan Colangelo, the Sixers' president of basketball operations.

Whatever they decide, it became their call at 8:26 p.m. Tuesday night when they won the first overall pick in the NBA draft lottery.

The Sixers, who had the league's worst record (10-72) and a 26.9 percent chance of winning, became the second consecutive last-place team to win the lottery in as many years. It marked the first time the Sixers won the lottery since 1996 and the third time overall. In 1996, the Sixers selected Hall of Famer Allen Iverson. They traded the first overall pick in 1986.

"How can you not be excited?" Sixers managing owner Josh Harris said. "We are incredibly excited. This is great for the city. I really appreciate the fans bearing with us and this is the next stage. We are in the next stage."

The three seasons of tanking finally paid for the squad that compiled a 47-199 record over that time. One this night, they finally got their pick after placing third in each of the last two lotteries.

"I was just hoping they didn't call our name at three, and they didn't," Harris said. "Then I was just hoping they didn't call our name at two, and they didn't. Then they called our name at one, and I was psyched."

The Los Angeles Lakers finished second in the lottery and Boston was third. Phoenix, Minnesota, and New Orleans rounded out the top six.

The Sixers had hoped to gain the Lakers' pick, acquired in a previous trade, but Los Angeles had to finish out of the top three for that to happen.

But this victory did not come without the conspiracy theorists going crazy.

That's because the Twitter account of Dikembe Mutombo congratulated the Sixers for winning the lottery at 4:29 p.m.

The post read: "Congrats to @Sixers on grabbing the #1 spot in the NBADraft. #PHILAfirst." The tweet was taken down shortly afterward. It turned out to be a mix-up.

Mutombo jumped the gun after receiving an email from the Sixers' alumni asking if he could tweet out congratulations in the event that they got the No. 1 pick.

However, the lottery, with 12 reporters present, did not take place until 7:20 Tuesday night in a sequestered room at the New York Hilton Midtown. The results were revealed later during a televised ceremony.

"When you analyze the top two prospects . . . you've got two very talented players," Colangelo said, "but two very different players."

Simmons is a 6-foot-10, 240-pound, ballhandling power forward out of Louisiana State. He would be in position to initiate the offense. Extremely versatile, the Australian can play small forward, power forward and line up as a small-ball center in certain situations.

"The notion that he's a ballhandling four puts him in a unique position with our team to be a disturber, etc., etc.," Colangelo said.

Ingram is a 6-9, 196-pound swingman out of Duke. He is more of a shooter and silky-smooth scorer. The North Carolina native may be able to play several positions like Simmons. However, his ability to shoot really stands out.

Both players applied for the draft after their freshman seasons.

"We are talking about a draft that has a couple of players at the top that are considered franchise-type players," Colangelo said. "No one is ready to anoint anyone a franchise changer or transformation player, but these are very high-level basketball players that have an opportunity to have that kind of impact."

The Sixers met with Ingram last week at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. Simmons did not attend the combine. So Colangelo will plan a trip to Cleveland, where Simmons' agent is based, soon to meet with the prospect whose father, Dave, was coached by Sixers coach Brett Brown in Australia. And the Sixers are expected to work out both of the top prospects at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The Sixers will put the candidates through physical testing and have conversations with them. Colangelo said the team would do its due diligence.

"So we've got a lot of work to do over the next . . . 38 days as we speak," Colangelo said. "There's a lot to do. We've got our sleeves rolled up."

But the evaluations will come later. Harris hugged Brown, who represented the team onstage, after the media availability. Then he and members of the ownership group posed for pictures on the stage.

"We did it." Brown said. "We actually got the first pick."