Ladies and gentleman, we are about to enter March Madness. What does this typically mean? Well, outside of the weeks leading up to the draft, this time of year is mock draft season! If you know me, you know I love a good mock draft. I was meaning to get a mock draft out, but as you would know by now, my mock drafts take copious amounts of time to get out as I go into far too much detail with each pick. I was wanting to get one out before the NCAA tournament, but, I was strapped for time. So instead of going into my usual 14 pick mock draft, let me focus on just one. That one is Ben Simmons.
Ben Simmons has come under a heap of criticism as of late. 90% of the basketball world has turned on him and labelled him overrated or somehow, a bust, even though he hasn't been drafted yet, let alone, make a single pro basketball appearance.
Most analysts and fans have persuaded themselves into believing that Ben Simmons isn't good. Why? Well, it's simple, they all want to be original.
Don't know what I mean, well have you heard or seen these headlines recently? "Simmons might not be as good as we think." Or, "Brandon Ingram might be better than Ben Simmons." Or my personal favorite, "Believe it or not, Brandon Ingram should be the number 1 pick!"
I'm going to guess that you have, because practically everyone has been saying those exact things.
Well I've got a newsflash for you guys that believe this, a couple of them actually. First off, all of you that claim to be original when you say that, aren't original. Because at this point, there are as many Ben Simmons rubbishers as there are lovers. Ben Simmons has come under more criticism in the past fortnight than everyone in the NBA this season, bar LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and WestDurant in OKC.
Second off, you have to be kidding if you say that Brandon Ingram is better than Ben Simmons. You have to either be on some sort of Maria Sharapova type drug, or trying to bate fans into getting more traffic for your website.
The only real knock against Simmons is that he can't shoot and that shooting in today's NBA is arguably the most important component of the game. Without it, a smart team will treat you like Tony Allen.
My counter to this?
Well, he can quite literally do everything else! He handles the ball, is the best distributor in the class, rebounds effectively (11 per game), defends multiple positions well, is athletic as all hell and gets to the rim whenever he wants to.
Not only this, but Ben Simmons, according to people close to him, works his ass off in training. If all he can't do at 19 years old (NINETEEN YEARS OLD!!!) is shoot the basketball, I'm sure he'll spend the next two years of his life trying to sharpen up that one end of his game. I can't stress this point enough, so I'll try to dumb it down even further. Quite literally, the only thing Ben Simmons cannot do on a basketball court, is make jump shots consistently. He is only 19 years old, so, he has the rest of his long, long NBA career to improve that part of his game. Remember, he can do EVERYTHING else, there will hardly be another thing to work on.
Firstly, I hate how that writer in his second point decided that Ben Simmons was a poor defensive player. Saying that his steal and block numbers are inflated and that he rarely ever gives a damn on the defensive end. Well, I do admit that he needs to show a little bit more energy, but everything else I disagree with. Simmons is a good, not quite great, but still a very good defender. His block and steal numbers aren't empty, it's just he doesn't throw himself around on that end the way we are accustomed to seeing. But a magnified look at the tape reveals that Simmons is one of the most intelligent defenders in all of college basketball. He double teams in great situations, helps in the correct context, gets involved in passing lanes and to me, knows exactly what to do in every situation that is thrown at him. Just take a look at this clip:
Watch him at the start of the clip, stunt at the ball, making the defender think that a double team is coming, so he picks up his dribble and then still get over to his man. Then watch him shade the guard, bating him to go middle instead of the relatively open baseline, as to allow Simmons to have his teammates help him out. Then watch him swat the shot as cleanly as everything but a Rick Pitino recruiting drive.
Another way you can tell he is smart is that he only committed 2.8 fouls per game, in nearly 35 minutes per night. He rarely ever throws away his fouls, nor does he go after blocks or steals he knows aren't attainable. He knows how important he is to LSU, so he doesn't go after massive highlight plays that may or may not result in a foul.
Another big knock on him? He wasn't able to lead this LSU team to the big dance. Critics claim he wasn't aggressive enough, didn't demand the ball, doesn't have desire to win and isn't a superstar because he wasn't able to drag his team across the line. Well I have news for you. How is any college player getting this LSU team into March Madness? Their coach is completely incompetent. I barely watched LSU before Simmons arrived, but I now hate whoever that coach is. He played Simmons at center for a large chunk of his time, for God's sake! For people that say that Simmons should've been more of a creator and been more aggressive, well it's pretty hard to do that when your coach tells you to play 2 feet from the rim. The next best player on his team might actually be Tim Quarterman, who shoots 22% on two point jumpers! Which top prospect is succeeding with that guy as his wingman?
Now just imagine what Brandon Ingram could've done in that situation. You think he would've done much better when he was the second option on a Duke team when he was the secondary offensive option? No! You think Simmons would've been freaking awesome if he went to Duke? Hell yeah!
It seems that Simmons is the basketball equivalent of Barack Obama. No matter what he does, analysts (or Republicans) find a way to hate him. I've seen people saying that he has a short wingspan. His wingspan is 6'11''!!! What are we expecting from this guy? A 9'2'' basketball playing alien from Jupiter who averages 106 points per game and shoots jump shots?
Analysts have now fallen in love with Brandon Ingram. A guy that is 6'9'', has a 7'3'' wingpsan and ways as much as a fourth grader. Sure, he can shoot, not brilliantly, but he can certainly make them better than Simmons can. Sure, he is a good defender, using his athleticism and length to full effect, but I don't see how that aspect of his game is any greater than Simmons'. In fact, with Ingram, I don't even know what position he plays. He projects as a small forward, but is he physical enough to do that at the NBA level? With guys like LeBron James running at you? I don't think that shooting guard is a long term position for him either, because his athletic advantage is lost there because he becomes average at that spot. He also isn't good enough off the dribble just yet to make a difference at that position.
For those of you that will say Simmons is overrated, I'll give you an update. Read these articles and tell me that he's overrated, I dare you:
Then again, if you decide to attempt to destroy Simmons, please make it neg his draft stock. My Celtics are in need of a star like him and I'm positive, he would be the man to take us to the next level.