76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo called trading the No. 1 pick “highly unlikely.”
So, the Ben Simmons-Brandon Ingram debate moves to Philadelphia.
At least as much as it’s a debate.
The Philadelphia 76ers are leaning heavily toward taking Simmons on June 23, according to league sources
This would be the right choice.
Simmons is the premier prospect in this draft – a playmaking power forward with the size and leaping ability to score inside crash the glass. Are their questions about his drive? Does his outside shot need work? Yes and yes. But his talent is undeniable and outweighs those concerns.
Ingram is a fine consolation prize, but Simmons would be the best selection for any team drafting No. 1 – including the 76ers, who are already loaded with big men.
Simmons’ ideal position if power forward, which makes it even harder fit the young highly drafted bigs already in Philadelphia – Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. The 76ers also have the rights to Dario Saric, whose style as a passing power forward loosely resembles Simmons’. But so what? They shouldn’t bypass the top prospect because he’s not ideal fit with this roster. A team that went 10-72 likely faces plenty of turnover.
Embiid and Saric have never played in the NBA. Okafor has looked one-dimensional so far, though he has at least impressed at that dimension (interior scoring). Noel took a step back this year, though perhaps that’s injury related.
You don’t pass up Simmons because of them.
Simmons might not like this – he reportedly prefers the Lakers – but those are the breaks. The NBA and players union collectively bargained a system where top first-year players don’t get to choose their employers.
Colangelo said Philadelphia planned to work out both Simmons and Ingram, so this isn’t necessarily a completely done deal. Simmons could try dissuading the 76ers by refusing to work out. But I’d still take him, and I think they would, too. He’s that good.
This would leave Ingram to No. 2, where the Lakers pick – if they don’t trade the selection. Ingram would fit well on the wing with a nice young core of D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. Plus, Ingram’s low-paying rookie-scale contract wouldn’t eat much into the Lakers’ cap room. This could be an enticing team in a couple years – if they’re willing to wait that long.