Over the course of this college basketball season there has been little to no doubt that Ben Simmons will be the first name off the board in the NBA draft. The LSU freshman has pretty much dominated all season long and possesses the type of skill that could one day elevate him as the face of any team in the Association. In the last month though, due to a variety of factors, the hype around him has faded a bit and a new name has surfaced as a possible candidate to overtake Simmons. That honor belongs to Duke freshman Brandon Ingram. In the last couple of mock drafts for several outlets, the Sixers have bypassed Simmons for Ingram. Let’s compare the two and analyze, if the Sixers get lucky and land the number one pick, who they should select.
This might be the toughest area to look at for the two prospects. Both are pretty advanced scorers, with Ingram averaging 17.1 points for game, and Simmons at 19.2, but they each use very different methods to put the ball into the basket.
Ingram takes 5.43 three point shots per game and makes an impressive 41.5% of them. It is tough to watch the Warriors dominate at the three point line and not like what Ingram brings to the table. His scoring ability does not end there though, as he can effortlessly attack the rim, using his skilled ball handling and 7’3” wingspan.
Simmons, on the other hand, is a physical specimen who uses his surprising quickness and strength to overwhelm defenders in the paint. He can easily shoot with either hand in the paint, even though he is a lefty, and while his post moves are not that of Jahlil Okafor’s just yet, there is enough there to be wildly impressed with the forwards low post game, especially when you realize that he translates to a small forward in the NBA. His biggest knock however, and one that is the prime reason to why he has faded recently is his inability to take and make threes. He is averaging a miniscule .1 attempts per game. Yep he has only taken 3 three point shots the entire year. That is alarming, especially for today’s NBA.
In terms of translating to the NBA, Ingram’s scoring looks to be a much smoother transition. Ingram’s shot and his ability to finish at the rim should give him a leg up in his development. Simmons will not be able to use his strength as easily at the next level, and if he fails to develop a jump shot, his game could stall, dramatically curtailing any type of progression.
VERDICT: Brandon Ingram
Ingram is no slouch as a passer or as a point forward. He averaged 2 assists per game but showed flashes of ability to suggest that he could one day be an above average passing forward in the NBA. In the end though, Simmons is a true Point Guard in a power forward’s body, and his skills in that regard are unrivaled not just in this draft but in any draft since maybe when LeBron jumped from high school. Simmons dished out just 4.8 assists per game but let’s face it, the teammates he was playing with were nowhere near the type of talent that the NBA can supply.
Simmons’s dynamic playmaking ability to go along with his quickness and size is one of the prime reasons why scouts have been salivating over him for a couple of years now. Ingram can certainly facilitate but nowhere near as well as Simmons.
VERDICT: Ben Simmons
It is so hard to find the perfect prospect in this day in age and these two players have their downfalls, specifically when it comes to Defense. Ingram is extremely thin stretching out at 6’9” and only 190 lbs and some are worried that his frame could really hurt him on the defensive end in the NBA. His wingspan has and will provide him the ability to block some shots but bigger and stronger opponents could very well dominate him down low.
Simmons on the other hand, with his build and speed should be able to stymie any opponent with ease. That however, was not the case at LSU. He looked quite frankly bored at times at the defensive end and would sometimes do his best impersonation of James Harden. That is not something that NBA GM’s want to see.
They are both pretty good rebounders, and some might say Simmons is already an elite one at (11.8 RPG). Simmons will probably not have as much success in the NBA but it is encouraging that at the college level that he can grab almost 12 rebounds a game.
Even though Ben Simmons sometimes lacks in effort (which considering the environment he was in isn’t too surprising), his physical ability is tough to beat. That should translate into a better defensive game. On the other hand, Ingram’s effort is there but he does not have the frame that Simmons possesses. Due to Simmons’s advanced rebounding skills, Simmons gets the edge.
VERDICT: Ben Simmons
Kevin Durant or LeBron James? Which one would you take in their prime? That is kind of the question we are asking when we want to know just how good these two players can be. It is not really as simple as that as those two players are not perfect comparisons, but they could get pretty close.
Ben Simmons needs to develop his shot. LeBron came into the league without a knockdown jumper and still does not have great one, but he is still one of the best players in the NBA. It does give Simmons some hope on that front, but still, it is imperative that Simmons learns to shoot more than 3 times in 33 games.
Simmons has an enticing floor. If anything, he could be a point forward who averages 20+ points and floats around 5 or 6 assists and rebounds per game. If he reaches his full ceiling though, he might not be necessarily LeBron James, but he could be a perennial All Star and perhaps collect an MVP or two.
Brandon Ingram might be tougher to project. If he can put on weight, the sky is truly the limit. He has everything you want in a cornerstone player. He can shoot, drive, pass and his length should turn him into a top notch shot blocker at the small forward position. Ingram has a very good chance to develop into a top scorer and capture a few scoring titles before his career is over. Ingram is not as polished and is a tad bit skinnier than Kevin Durant was at Texas, but they are pretty similar in their while in college.
If we are talking about floor vs. ceiling, Simmons gets the cake, just because he is already built like a truck and he could step on the NBA floor today and play pretty well. If we are talking about pure potential, it is tough to not go with Ingram. Shooting is just so important and Ingram is just so much better than Simmons at it. Add some weight to Ingram and he could be a player that we have never seen before. Or Kevin Durant? I am sure any NBA team would be happy with either outcome.
VERDICT: Brandon Ingram
Fit With Sixers:
Sam Hinkie needs himself a top notch, perennial All Star type talent if he wants to validate this rebuild. Embiid might be that but Okafor and Noel are probably just really nice pieces. Luckily for Hinkie, both Ingram and Simmons are cornerstone-like prospects. If the Sixers of today remain intact once the draft comes, one prospect fits much better than the other. And that is Brandon Ingram.
That is not to say that Simmons will not be welcomed as a Sixer, but the Sixers desperately need shooting. As it has been noted several times, Ingram can shoot and Simmons cannot. Simple as that. Okafor, if he wants to really reach his potential, needs a shooter to spread the floor and allow Big Jah to operate cleanly down low.
The Sixers need a point guard, or just someone to bring the ball up, and Simmons could provide that, but there are so many point guards out there and plus, Dario Saric, who is supposed to come over next year, plays a very similar game. In addition, it may not be too difficult for the Sixers to grab Mike Conley or Jeff Teague in the upcoming free agencies, especially if the they have enough talent to attract those caliber players.
VERDICT: Brandon Ingram
Who Should They Pick With the Number One?
This is tough. It is hard to pass on either player but they each have upsides that warrant the top selection. Simmons could step on the floor right away and contribute, and in just a couple of years he could be one of the faces of the NBA.
Then there’s Ingram. Ingram has some work to do, he needs to put on some mass, and he could get better as a passer. Just give him five years though and we could be watching him in a Sixers’ uniform throwing up 25+ points every night with ease.
If the Sixers do have the luxury of picking first, they can afford to select for need and fit because these two players are so talented. Simmons might be the better prospect but the margin is not that large enough for it to be a no-brainer and Ingram fits so much better with the Sixers the way they are currently assembled.
SELECTION: Brandon Ingram
Photo credit: USATSI