Barclays Center is the focal point of the NBA world for the fourth year in a row as Brooklyn again hosts the NBA draft.
Neither local team has a first-round pick despite missing the playoffs, although the Nets currently hold a late second-round, No. 55 overall. While the Knicks and Nets may be quiet Thursday night, there’s plenty of intrigue surrounding the draft.
Here’s a look at four questions entering the festivities.
Will Ben Simmons become a franchise player?
Reports indicate the freshman out of LSU is a lock to go first overall to the 76ers. That comes as no surprise, as the versatile Simmons has been labeled the top prospect since the fall. What remains to be seen is if Simmons has the mentality and motor to match his athletic gifts and lead Philadelphia back to prominence. That much won’t be revealed Thursday, of course.
What are the Celtics up to?
Boston owns eight selections overall — three in the first round and five of the first 35 picks — including Brooklyn’s original No. 3 slot. Don’t count on them holding on to all eight players, so keep a lookout for a possible major trade for veteran assistance.
Who will be available at the No. 9 pick?
The Raptors will make this pick, which they acquired from the Knicks in the ill-fated Andrea Bargnani deal. Surely, a sect of the Knicks’ fan base will be monitoring the progress of the players that could have sported blue and orange in an alternate reality.
Will the Nets find a sleeper at No. 55?
Not likely. By far, the top best player selected 55th over the past 10 years is Isaiah Thomas (60th in 2011). However, the first-time All-Star is a rarity among late picks. More often than not, these players fail to crack the rotation or sign a contract.