Ben Simmons is taking his talents to the NBA (with LeBron’s agent).
The question is where will he land? And when will he get picked?
Last week, Jonathan Givony — the well-connected man behind DraftExpress.com — moved Ben Simmons from the projected top spot in the draft down to No. 2 and replaced him with Duke’s Brandon Ingram.
This stirred plenty of discussion. Know this: if Givony is putting it up, it means some teams are discussing it.
This may also be a shock to some fans of the Sixers, Lakers, Suns, Celtics and others who thought Simmons was not only the presumptive No. 1 pick, but also he is a franchise changing player.
Franchise cornerstone may be his ceiling, but a lot of teams don’t think he’ll get there.
“The hype that Ben Simmons had entering the season was totally unfair, NBC’s college basketball guru Rob Dauster told PBT this week. “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.”
Simmons has flaws. Make no mistake; he has a broken jumper. There are also questions about his passion for the game and if he’ll put in the work needed to get near that ceiling. Both Dauster and NBA Draft Blog (and Rotoworld writer) Ed Isaacson had the same comparison for Simmons I had heard from other scouts:
Peak Lamar Odom.
There are real comparisons with their development — high school Odom was the (or one of the) top players coming out of high school, a guy with great skills but questions about how his game would evolve, and his passion for the game.
Peak Odom was a very good player — 14.4 points and 8.7 assists per game in 2010-11, he had a PER of 19.4 that season and was Sixth Man of the Year on a championship Lakers team — but he was the third best player on that team.
But do you want to spend the No. 1 pick on a guy who is your third best player someday?
Is Ingram any better?
Simmons certainly has the higher potential, the question is do you think he’ll put in the work to reach it? This is not a guy coming in with the reputation for work that Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns have.
“I had one NBA front office member tell me last week that Ingram has always been No. 1 for him because he doesn’t think that he’ll put in the amount of work that, say, Kawhi Leonard put in to be a good shooter,” Dauster said.
A lot of fans — and some members of the media — talked about what they saw as a lack of effort in big games like Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas A&M, and they were right about that. But while this may have been a revelation to those fans and media, it has been in the NBA scouting report on Simmons for a long time.
That said, the guy could be great — and the NBA draft is about the player a guy can be in three to five years down the line, not who they are on draft night. It’s a projection.
In the end, the scouts I have spoken with still have Simmons as likely going No. 1
Think of it like a GM: You can’t risk leaving that much potential on the draft board. The last thing you want to hear from fans and ownership is “how did you pass on this franchise changing player?” It’s one thing if you pass on Giannis Antetokounmpo or someone out of a small school with questions, But Simmons has been at the top of his class from the start. If you talk yourself out of him then he turns out to reach that ceiling, you better polish up your resume.
“I think Simmons has a much higher ceiling than Ingram, even though I do think Ingram’s size and length will make him an excellent player in the league when he adds some weight and strength,” Dauster said. “Simmons could end up being a top 5-10 player in the NBA one day, though, but it will be up to the team with the No. 1 pick to decide if their organization is going to be willing to bet on him one day getting there.”
Then the question becomes can that team develop him.