The Case For Taking Ben Simmons No. 1 Overall
So the Sixers ended up with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and now the debate has begun - LSU's Ben Simmons or Duke's Brandon Ingram?
"They aren't going to make this decision based on need," ESPN's NBA draft expert Chad Ford said on the Sports Bash. "They are going to make this decision on who is the guy, the super star we can build around in this draft. They just haven't had that and they need that if they are going to win a championship."
Are one of these guys a legitimate difference-maker, a transcendent player that teams need to have to be a legitimate NBA title contender? Is getting one of these two guys enough for them to justify the past three years of a really bad on-court product?
"That starts with Ben Simmons," Ford said. "Ben Simmons is the guy to me in this draft that has a chance to be a transcendent player. He does certain things that are just special, things that other players just can't do."
Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.8 blocks for LSU last season, and Ford said there is more than just the eye-popping numbers that you should like about his game. Simmons, is an amazing passer and ball-handler for a guy his size and a kid who can see the floor over much smaller defenders, and blow by bigger guys who might come out on the perimeter to try and defend him.
"You're talking about a 6-10, 240 pound point guard," Ford explained.
"He sees the floor as well as any guard, point guard that I have seen in the draft in the last decade. You talk about elite size and athletic ability for your position and then you have an elite skill like that -that translates into a guy that can be a real super-star."
The hard part when projecting a player for the Sixers is Joel Embiid's future - nobody can really project if he will be able to play, stay healthy and project what kind of player he might be at the NBA level. Many people think Embiid could be that transcendent player the Sixers have been looking for, but which player, Simmons or Ingram would be a better fit for his skill set?
"There Sixers are in desperate need of both play-makers and shooters," Ford stated. "So both guys fit a need, the Sixers can't afford to think who is the best fit, they have to get the best basketball player in this draft, that is their job. Who is the guy that in three years everyone will agree is the best basketball player - and I think that is Ben Simmons."
Knowing the Sixers covet a point guard, Providence point guard Kris Dunn, 22, is probably the best pure point guard in this years class, the Sixers are said to like him a lot. He would be someone to think about if the Sixers were able to secure the Lakers pick that did not convey this season.
So is there another way to get there hands on Dunn?
Rumors have been floating around about Jahlil Okafor, and Boston.
Back around the trade deadline, it seemed like the Celtics had interest in the Sixers big man, but the Sixers backed out of any deal that may have been offered. Now they know the Celtics are picking third overall, they might be more interested in revisiting those discussions.
So should the Sixers consider a deal that would move Okafor if Boston is in fact interested in revisiting those trade talks?
"Absolutely, 100-percent, it would be done tomorrow if it were me," Ford said. "I don't know if Boston would do it, but for Philadelphia, 100-percent. "It would allow them to actually bring in another elite guard, Dunn or Jamal Murray, and suddenly you have a very bright future, I think that is an easy call for the Sixers if Boston would do it."
"I think there is a very high likely-hood, that whether its move up in the draft or use them to grab a free agent in a sign-and-trade, or just to do a trade that you will not see the Nerlens Noel-Jahlil Okafor pairing at the start of next season."
A recent report stated that the 76ers are currently leaning towards going with Simmons at the No. 1 spot on draft day, although with Dario Saric set to come to the NBA next season, would that be an issue?
Many people around the NBA think the two have similar skill sets.
"They've got to his this," Ford stressed. "They've got to nail this pick, they have got to execute here, which means if Ben Simmons is repetitive with Dario Saric, Ben Simmons is a much better prospect that Dario Saric. Dario Saric is not athletic, and Ben Simmons is an elite athlete. You take Ben Simmons and you either shop Dario Saric around the league or you have another guy who is a versatile ball handler that happens to play the same position on the roster."
Sixers head coach Brett Brown coached Simmons' father with the Melbourne Tigers in Australia, so there's already a connection there. Ford thinks that should give the Sixers a leg up with the reports of Simmons maturity issues.
"He is going to be in a position to be able to say, 'I'm the right coach for you, I understand you, the background you grew up with and you got to trust me.'"
So are the Sixers a good fit for Simmons? They are one team that can put the ball in his hands as a 6-10 point forward and allow him to do what he will do best at the NBA level.
"I do believe Brett Brown is the best coach for Ben Simmons, I actually think the Sixers are the best environment for him to become the player he needs to be."
One thing I like about Simmons is he can handle the ball outside and also go down on the post as both a passer and scorer. Think about Simmons and Embiid, guys who can both play in the post, and step out. Think about Simmons with the ball on the block, getting the double team, Embiid is a guy who can knock down jumpers from all over-the-floor.
I think Simmons adds a multi-dimensional layer to the offense, while Ingram might be a better shooter and give the Sixers the ability to spread the floor - I'm starting to think Simmons might be the player who can make the Sixers a special team.