“The hype that Ben Simmons had entering this season was totally unfair. He was compared to LeBron James and Magic Johnson, which was insane. No 19 year old should ever be compared to two of the greatest basketball players that have ever lived. And frankly, what he’s doing this season isn’t all that different from what he did throughout his high school and international career. He’s never been able to shoot, he’s always wanted to be a point guard, he’s never had much of an interest in being a defensive menace, he’s always had short arms.”
—Rob Dauster of NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk, for PBT
Ben Simmons is not LeBron James.
And he’s not going to get paid like LeBron, at least in his rookie shoe deal.
Simmons is still the likely No. 1 pick in what is considered a down draft (depending on which team lands the top pick Duke’s Brandon Ingram could be in play). But because of his unique skill set as a point forward, and because of his ceiling, the hype for Simmons got out of control for a while. Scouts said he was a guy worth tanking for, and fans ran with that idea. Upon closer inspection Simmons has fantastic potential but a world of questions about if he can reach that high, and if he wants to put in the work to do so.
Combine that with economic forces at play, and it means Simmons rookie shoe deal is not going to be a LeBron-like $100 million, something Nick DePaula laid out at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Baltimore-based Under Armour isn’t in the running for Simmons and is instead focused on spending its resources expanding reigning MVP Stephen Curry‘s shoe line as it continues to establish its footwear business. Simmons also is not looking for a shoe deal with a Chinese-based company.
That leaves just two brands for (Simmons’ agent Rich) Paul and Klutch Sports to create a bidding war for Simmons: Nike and adidas….
The idea that a sneaker brand will offer Simmons anywhere near $100 million is out of the question. A more realistic range is believed to be between what former top picks Andrew Wiggins (five years, $11 million with adidas) and John Wall (five years, $25 million with Reebok) each received on their rookie shoe deals. Both deals included several rollback and incentive clauses, which is the industry standard.
In contrast, LeBron had Nike, adidas and Reebok all at the table with serious bids, and when supply outweighs demand people get paid. That ended up being a good deal for Nike, which has done well with the LeBron signature shoe line and has given the man a lifetime contract.
Simmons is going to have to earn those deals with his play on the court.