Sixers Fans, What If Ben Simmons Is The Next LeBron James?
The Philadelphia 76ers own the 1st overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Ben Simmons is a presumptive pick but some people still bring up names like Brandon Ingram and Jamal Murray as options for the Sixers. So the comparisons have been labored for weeks now.
Let's take a step back from the typical Ben Simmons' arguments for the number one overall pick. What are the criticisms of Simmons:
-He's not demonstrative enough
-He's not a good shooter
-He's athletic and talented but what about where his head is?
The more people criticize Ben Simmons, the more I realize that the same people dislike LeBron James. Simmons agent is Rich Paul, the same agent for LeBron. Simmons grew up when LeBron was ascending to the superstar status he has become today. For Simmons, from ages 8 through 18, LeBron James was the biggest star in the NBA.
So for a guy who is listed at 6'10" why are we surprised he modeled his game after the greatest player on the planet playing Basketball? Simmons has a good handle for a player his size, his passing skills are top notch, he is an excellent athlete, and he has a good basketball IQ. Reminds me of the scouting report of LeBron James coming out of High School back in 2003.
Other talented NBA stars who as prospects did the same as Simmons in modeling their game after the previous generation:
-Kobe Bryant grew up watching Michael Jordan
-Dirk Nowitzki based his game on Larry Bird
-Steve Nash looked up to John Stockton
This is part of the game that gets overlooked is that the evolution of the NBA is based on the stars who were the previous generation. Players with unique skill sets and physical attributes get compared to each other. I don't think Ben Simmons will shy away from comparisons to LeBron James but at the same time he wasn't ready for the same criticisms.
ESPN Senior College Basketball writer/reporter Andy Katz was a guest on The Sports Bash on Thursday and detailed the reason why people criticize Simmons:
“Simmons, more versatile, probably has the better skills. What helps Ingram is he is a winner and his team won. I look back to a couple of games that really stand out. The LSU-Oklahoma game, Simmons did not take the last shot....that is a knock on Ben Simmons. You didn't see that enough at LSU where he demanded the ball and took over."
We have heard similar criticisms of LeBron James, that he's not clutch, doesn't want the final shot at the end of games, that he looks to pass first too much, etc. James is a potential triple double every night in the NBA and so was Simmons during his one season at LSU.
What if Ben Simmons lives up to expectations and plays like LeBron James? James has missed the playoffs once in his career, that was his Rookie season. What if Ben Simmons is a similar player with that type of impact?
ESPN's Marc Stein reports that sources tell him that the Sixers came away from meeting with Ben Simmons impressed by the 20 pounds of muscle Simmons is said to have added to his physique. Physically that would put Simmons in the same athletic-freak conversation we have about LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and other special NBA athletes.
Maybe instead of over analyzing why the 76ers shouldn't draft Ben Simmons, let's embrace the potential of having LeBron James "Lite" in a Sixers uniform next season.
Checkout what ESPN's Andy Katz had to say about Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Buddy Hield, and other top Basketball prospects