Ben Simmons Interview: ‘I Have A Target On My Back, Ready For The Challenge’
Ben Simmons, the consensus best player in this year’s draft class, has acknowledged that there is a target on his back and he’s prepared to embrace the challenge that comes with being a No. 1 pick.Advertisement
“Being the No. 1 guy, they’re going to put that target on your back,” Simmons told ESPN’s Chad Ford in an interview. “But you’ve got to be prepared for it. It comes with the territory. … There’s always going to be talk about who should be 1 or 2 in the draft. But my focus is just getting ready for the next level.”
Ben Simmons rubbishes rumors
In recent weeks, there have been a flurry of reports about Simmons preferring to fall No. 2 to the Los Angeles Lakers. And while there is some truth to that theory, the Intelligencer reported Tuesday that the Simmons camp has been preparing to go to Philadelphia since the draft lottery last month.
For the first time ever, Simmons has trashed the rumor mill, stating that his focus is on basketball and not where he ends up. “I’m not worried who goes where. It’s an 82-game season. You have to prepare for that. And that’s my focus right now,” sad the Australian prodigy, widely expected to go No.1 to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Simmons has been hailed as “arrogant” by several media outlets due to his reluctance to interact with teams or grant them private workouts. However, Ford revealed that Simmons looks more NBA ready than any other draft prospect.
“Some have read Simmons’ reluctance to interact with teams and the media as antisocial or even arrogant. But after watching him in Cleveland last week, I don’t think that assessment is fair. Instead, Simmons appears to be incredibly focused on his NBA career,” Ford, arguably the best NBA scout in the country, wrote in his insider article.
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Ford also revealed Simmons’ day-to-day routine since moving to Cleveland after his college season ended. “His routine is the same every day. He gets up in the morning and heads to the gym, where he’s spending time putting up shots, doing ball-handling drills, working on his transition game and change of pace — the whole works.”
Ready to compete with Durant, LeBron
The likes of Lakers legend Magic Johnson and Sixers coach Brett Brown haven’t refrained from comparing Simmons to LeBron James. And Simmons has acknowledged that he wants to be the next great NBA superstar.
“I’m worried about playing against Paul George, Kevin Durant and LeBron James next season. Once you get drafted, you’re at the bottom. You have to start all over again. People don’t care where you were drafted. They just care whether you can play.”
“This is my job now. This is the main focus for me. I have to come in every day and put the work in. This is a great job. I love doing it. Every day, the goal is to get better,” concluded Ben Simmons.
There have been concerns about Simmons’ jump shot. However, one NBA GM reckons it’s been blown out of proportion. “The one thing that almost always gets better from college to the pros is a guy’s jumper,” one NBA GM told Ford on Tuesday. “It’s a fixable problem, and frankly, I’m not sure how much of a problem it really is. LeBron [James] couldn’t shoot when he came out. Lots of guys couldn’t. They get better.”
Work ethic par excellence
Ford also lauded the work ethic of 19-year-old Ben Simmons. “Simmons’ work ethic the past two months has been extraordinary. It’s a counter-narrative to whispers in the media that Simmons didn’t care at LSU, isn’t competitive or doesn’t want it badly enough. Everything I saw on the court looked like a player who doesn’t just want to be the No. 1 pick — he wants to be great,” Ford explained in his insider article.
As it stands, the Philadelphia 76ers are leaning towards picking Simmons ahead of Brandon Ingram. This would be Philadelphia’s first No. 1 pick since Allen Iverson in 1996. Ingram is expected to go No.2 to the Lakers.
The NBA Draft is on June 23.