Barring a trade, the Philadelphia 76ers, who have the third pick in the NBA Draft, will not be able to select Lonzo Ball, who figures to go in the top two. But 76ers CEO Scott O’Neill wishes the best for Ball, especially given LaVar Ball’s controversial personality.
“Look, my dad wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t an angel,” O’Neill said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “But I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be held accountable for the decisions he made and what he did and what he said. I’ve been fortunate enough to know some folks that have been around Lonzo, and they said he’s a great kid, he plays really hard, and most importantly, they talk about him focusing on wanting to win more than anything else. So I wish him the best. He seems like a heck of a player. I hope we can get some separation between him and his dad. It’s tough enough to be 19 years old and trying to (navigate) your career and (be) a potential superstar.”
Of course, even if Ball were available at No. 3, the 76ers might not automatically pull the trigger. That’s the beauty of having 6-10 guard Ben Simmons.
“Obviously he’s an elite athlete, great court vision, and we saw in summer league (that) he can defend the pick-and-roll,” O’Neill said. “He can defend a one off the pick-and-roll. He’s a big-time, big-time athlete and he’s got that Australian toughness to him, which we love. In Philadelphia, you cannot be soft here. You just can’t. You’ve got to bring it every single night on every single possession, and you got to have the heart of a warrior – and he’s got it.”
Simmons, 20, missed the 2016-17 season with a broken foot, but the potential for greatness is there. O’Neill asked listeners to Google a photo of Simmons with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and others. Simmons towers over them, including James.
“That’s a man. That’s a man-child,” O’Neill said. “It feels like me except big, strong, tall, talented, fast, and a baller.”
The 76ers went 28-54 (.341) this season, nearly tripling their wins from 2015-16 (10). They went 28-136 (.171) in the previous two seasons combined.
“Brett Brown has just done a wonderful and marvelous job,” O’Neill said. “Man, oh man, the job this guy has done has been nothing short of a miracle. He’s kept this locker room together through some really tough times, and he’s coached his ass off.”