As it always happens in the lead up to the NBA Draft, the long-time consensus number one pick is being surrounded by question marks so the national media has something to talk about for the next month. After coming out of high school as 2016’s presumed #1 overall pick, Ben Simmons’ game has been analyzed, picked apart, challenged, and questioned. Each of those questions chips away as his presumed value. But are they fair?
Back in March, when Simmons was already finished his collegiate career before the NCAA tournament began, FOX Sports commentator Tim Brando – from Louisiana – talked to the 97.5 midday show about Simmons, his attitude, and his potential:
“I think the attitude argument is a little out of line. I was certainly close to the situation and went down to Baton Rouge and watched him play. I could see what was going on with the way he was blending with his team and the lack of team chemistry… it dealt more with the entourage and the people around him. That was a situation that had no chance of succeeding in Baton Rogue at the collegiate level…
I think the kid is a good kid. I don’t think that he’s got a poor attitude at all. He actually shares the ball quite well. He needs to improve his shot, but I think he’s gonna be a much better pro than he was a collegian.
To me, Ben Simmons is a great pro. You see him with your own eyes and you cannot imagine how quickly he moves up and down the floor… As a point forward concept, the guy’s got the goods. This kid makes everybody else on the floor better.”
“I think that his problem was that he thought he could get his without having to necessarily work on his shot. I think that he’s certainly good enough a talent. Michael Jordan didn’t have the best shot in college, Magic Johnson didn’t have the best shot. His innate understanding of where his teammates are, his opponents at the college level were not prepared for the type of plays he was going to make as a big man. And his speed getting up and down the floor with the rock, it’s sort of like imagining that James Worthy and Magic were the same player… I think he’s gonna be an instant star in the NBA.”
Brando is obviously in on Simmons, but he’s not the only one.
ESPN’s David Thorpe recently broke down Simmons’ all-around game, and he’s handing out some high praise as well. “Let’s not forget that another do-it-all type of NBA star was not a good shooter in college,” Thorpe wrote. “In two seasons, Kawhi Leonard shot 20.5 percent and 29.1 percent from 3, yet is a career 39-percent shooter in the NBA — making 44 percent this season.” Thorpe also says that Simmons’ “growth overall as a shooter” could have a huge impact on how “special” he is in the NBA. Simmons reminds him of Jason Kidd, Scottie Pippen, Lamar Odom, and Paul Millsap. But that’s not even the highest praise he offers:
“Simmons can be one of the top two players on his team in all three phases of the game (scoring, passing, rebounding) while being an elite defender. That puts his ceiling as a perennial All-Star, a max-salary player and, if he learns to be a better primary scorer, a recurrent MVP candidate.”
The Simmons v. Ingram debate will rage on until
Adam Silver announces the first pick Woj scoops and spoils the first pick on Twitter, but it seems clear among the experts that Simmons is the pick, and you can’t pass him up.