Ben Simmons this, Ben Simmons that. At 7 O’clock Eastern time tonight, barring a trade, you’ll more than likely hear Ben Simmons be called first overall to the Philadelphia 76ers; and who could blame them?
Simmons has the skill set to be the NBA’s next rising star; some have even been so bold to say he is the closest thing to LeBron James that we’ve seen in quite a while. He’s explosive to the bucket, can create his own shots, gets others involved, and even struggles with his jump shot; Simmons even has two whole inches on LeBron’s draft-body.
Simmons also has a few question marks to his game. As previously stated, his jump shot will be analyzed and tweaked a million times before his first NBA game, and many will wonder how he will impact a struggling team by himself; he’s good at creating his own shots and his court vision and passing abilities have proven to be stellar, but how easy will it be for him to get his new team to succeed?
Analysts and experts alike have said “Well his college team (LSU), wasn’t any good and he had no help.” True. But will it be any different as a 76er? Simmons’ college team, the LSU Tigers, finished the season 19-14 and withdrew from the National Invitation Tournament and Simmons’ career was over leaving few who got to see him play in primetime. The 76ers did not get their first win of the 2016 season until their 19th contest, a whole month into the season. It’ll be interesting to see how Simmons’ can take the reins of this team and put Philadelphia on his back.
In the NBA, Simmons’ will likely find himself struggling to score in the beginning of his career as he will face stronger defenders who will make him shoot the ball or go to the free throw line, where he shot 67%, and will leave little to no room for a drive; until Simmons can figure out that part of his game, he may struggle early on.
In my opinion, the most NBA-ready player in this years’ draft is Duke University’s Brandon Ingram. Ingram, a 6’9” flex forward, has shown that what he lacks in size and muscle to Simmons, he makes up for in his ability to shoot the basketball; his 7’3” wingspan helps tremendously as well. Simmons shot the three ball only three times in his lone collegiate season, making one; Ingram shot 41% in 195 shots from three; a very important tool to have in the always evolving NBA. Ingram also had almost double the blocks (27-49) Simmons’ had, and 39 fewer turnovers (111-72).
Although Simmons posted, on average, two more points a game than Ingram (19.2-17.3) Ingram still posted his numbers with Grayson Allen stealing the scoring spotlight for Duke at 21.6 points per game. Simmons was the highest scorer per game by an average of six points the entire season.
The main concern is Ingram’s size. At 6’9” 196 lbs, Ingram is likely to snap in half with the slightest bit of contact in the paint; however, a player you may have heard of in Kevin Durant weighed just 20 pounds more than Ingram coming out of college. Durant has embraced his role as the Slim Reaper, and has helped give a name to tall, lanky players who can shoot the ball and drive at will. Currently, Ingram is eating 6 meals a day, according to USA Today, to put on 20 pounds before his first NBA Season. If he does it successfully, Ingram could be an immediate All-Star.
In my opinion, Ingram is the best option if you want the most complete, and well-rounded, top draft-pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Ben Simmons will be great, but it may take a few years to develop his jump shot which will make him great; LeBron James thrives on getting to the hole, but can also knock down a jump shot if given the space, which is something Simmons will need to develop if he truly wants to be compared to James. Ingram can work in the paint, knock down a three if needed, and use his killer instinct and high basketball IQ to create shots for himself, and his teammates; all great tools to have on a team who needs to win now, and not later.