Drafting Ben Simmons Is a No-Brainer for the Philadelphia 76ers
This morning Philadelphia 76ers informed camp of Ben Simmons he would be taken No. 1 in NBA Draft, league sources tell @clevelanddotcom.
â€” Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 21, 2016
Well, not really.
Going into this offseason, it really wasn't a question of whether or not the Philadelphia 76ers were going to pick Ben Simmons with the number-one overall pick in this year's draft.
It was more of a question of whether or not it was going to make sense or not.
With big men Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel all on board -- all recent first-round picks -- NBA analysts speculated as to where Simmons would fit into the equation for the franchise's rebuilding plan.
At 6'10" and a solid 225 pounds, Simmons could play the three or four, especially in today's NBA. But, the problem with Simmons (at least immediately) slotting in at the three spot is that he can't shoot from the perimeter.
Take a look at Simmons' three-point numbers from a year ago.
|Three-Point Percentage||Three-Pointers Made||Three-Pointers Attempted|
And that's it.
The Australian phenom was 1 for 3 on the year, while his best competition for the number-one pick, Duke's Brandon Ingram, went 80 for 195 from beyond the arc, converting at a 41% clip.
It's safe to say that Simmons isn't a shooter -- at least he isn't yet. But he can do just about everything else you'd want a number-one pick to do on the floor. That much was apparent from his 33 games at LSU.
In his one year at Baton Rouge, the 19-year-old tallied 19.2 points, 11.8 boards and 4.8 assists in 34.9 minutes per game. That couldn't get his Tigers to the postseason, but he did do his part to try to get them there before he departed.
In a way, it's shocking that Simmons did so much scoring without an effective jumper. But for what he didn't provide from the perimeter, he made up for in the paint and attacking the basket.
In doing so, Simmons racked up nine free-throw attempts per game at a rate of .769 free-throw attempts per field-goal attempt. This was good enough for nearly 35% of the Tigers' attempts from the charity stripe.
When attacking the basket, Simmons didn't always look to score. Rather, by utilizing his size, he hit the open man with ease. In fact, his assistant percentage of 27.4% was the best of any Tiger to play at least 20 games.
And if you thought those numbers were good, Simmons' best ability is rebounding the basketball.
Of his nearly 12 rebounds a game, 3.1 came on the offensive end of the floor, where the Freshman snatched 9.6% of all available offensive rebounds.
His physical attributes and well-rounded game were the key to his team-leading six Win Shares and .207 Win Shares Per 40 Minutes.
The Fit in Philly
So, now that you know what Simmons can and can't do, how does he fit in Philly?
In a nutshell, he could fit in well or he could fit in very well. It's all a matter of whether or not Okafor will be on the roster come training camp, or even draft night.
It would be tough for the Sixers to start him at the small forward spot alongside Noel and Okafor considering the Sixers' inability to score and pose a threat from the perimeter.
As expected, the lowly Sixers finished near the bottom of the league in all three of these offensive categories. The problem is that they still attempted threes at the eighth-highest rate of all NBA teams despite shooting a mere 33.9% from deep (24th in the NBA).
So, Simmons and his still-developing jumper wouldn't be much help for a team looking for someone other than Robert Covington to hit a three-ball and stretch the defense.
On the flip side, it's unlikely for any of the three to come off the bench, so it might be best if Okafor is shipped out for a draft pick (or two) or veteran player, as many have speculated recently.
If Jerry Colangelo and company pull the trigger, they would more than likely see a better return on their investment. Not only could Philly add another player (preferably one who can hit from three), but they could also utilize Simmons as more of a point forward. Without a playmaker, the Sixers ranked 20th in assists per game (21.5) a year ago.
No matter how he gets on the floor, one thing is certain: Simmons will help the Sixers rebound. They ranked dead last in rebounds per game (41.2) in 2015-16, so Simmons' elite rebounding ability can do nothing but pull the Sixers out of the depths of their rebounding woes.
Hopefully Simmons can do much more than score, assist, and rebound. Whether it's fair or not, Simmons will be asked to help the entire franchise rebound from three straight seasons of 19 wins or less.
Even if he fails to fulfill expectations as the next LeBron James, this is one that the Sixers really can't mess up. He's the best all-around player on the board with the most potential.
If you're trusting the process, you have to trust the hype and hope that Simmons is the hero the city of Philadelphia needs right now.