LeBron James says likely No. 1 pick Ben Simmons “a great young talent,” LeBron’s tried to be mentor

Associated Press
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OAKLAND — Ben Simmons, the forward out of LSU all but certain to be the No. 1 pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Draft Thursday, has signed with Klutch Sports to represent him. That would be Rich Paul’s agency, the same one that represents LeBron James.

LeBron said he has tried to be a mentor to the young star.

“I think he’s a great young talent,” LeBron said Saturday, on the eve of Game 7 of the NBA Finals. “I think the way he displays on the basketball court, we all notice. I think we all don’t know just yet how great of a kid he is and how down to earth he is with the game of basketball and life in general.

“I had an opportunity to spend a lot of time over the last couple years with him and his family. They’re just so very appreciative of the opportunity that they’ve been given as a family. Also, they give everything to their son. They want the best for him. And as a mentor to him and big brother to him, I also give him a lot of advice on what to expect when he makes his jump next week, how to handle it. But he also has to figure it out on his own as well because everybody’s path is different.”

Simmons is the one player in this draft capable of becoming a top 10 player in the league, something Rob Dauster of Collegebasketballtalk at NBC Sports broke down for us in a detailed preview Sixers fans should check out.

Simmons is 6-foot-10. He’s quick. He’s agile. He’s fluid. He can move laterally. He runs the floor like a deer. He’s got some bounce to him. He checks in somewhere around 230-240 pounds. (He didn’t get his physical profile measured at the combine.) He moves like a player six inches shorter than him and he’s built like a typical power forward. When combined with ball-handling, his elite-of-the-elite vision and ability throw no-look bullet passes all over the court, he becomes him a constant highlight reel. Simmons is better than anyone that I can remember watching at the college level at grabbing a defensive rebound and leading the break…

Simmons made just one three his freshman season. He attempted just three. He was 14-for-45 on jumpers, per Synergy. He shot 67.0 percent from the free throw line… Obviously, this is a problem in today’s NBA, which is entirely built around the concept of spacing. It was a problem for him in college as well, as one of the strategies that opposing teams employed come SEC play was to play five or six feet off of him and offer a ton of help…

(Simmons) opted to pout the one time that his head coach tried to punish him — he was benched for the first five minutes of a game against SEC bottom-feeder Tennessee that LSU lost by 16, and Simmons’ effort was an embarrassment. At the time, the Tigers were just a week removed from a win that many believed had pushed them onto the right side of the bubble. That was a crippling loss to their season, and a moment that made a big impression on a number of people the same way their joke of a performance in a 71-38 loss in the first round of the SEC tournament did.

Just how competitive is this kid if he’s willing to give up on his team like that? Does he want to be an NBA champion or does he simply want to live the life that comes with being an NBA player?