Ben Simmons is the consensus No. 1 pick in the forthcoming NBA Draft. As it stands, Philadelphia 76ers are projected to pick the Australian teenager ahead of Duke forward Brandon Ingram.
If it were up to Simmons, he’d rather drop to No. 2 in the draft and go to the Los Angeles Lakers, according to sources close to the LSU star. On Monday, The Vertical made a sensational revelation that “the thinking from Simmons’ camp is straightforward and simple: It’s the Los Angeles Lakers or bust.”
The Lakers, too, would prefer to draft Simmons over Ingram. Earlier today, ESPN’s draft expert Chad Ford revealed that Lakers were leaning towards Simmons due to his enormous star potential.
Ben Simmons doesn’t fit with Sixers…
In theory, it does make a ton of sense for Philadelphia to draft Ingram over Simmons. After drafting three centers/power forwards in three consecutive drafts (Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okaford), it would be a challenge for coach Brett Brown to accommodate Simmons in the team.
In Ingram, the Sixers would get a potent shooter and wing defender, a substantial upgrade from Robert Covington. Of course, there is the likelihood that Sixers trade one or two of the aforementioned big men and hand Simmons playmaking duties as the point forward.
Remember, Simmons grew up a die-hard Lakers fan. Last September, he posted a Facebook picture of him wearing the coveted No. 32 Lakers jersey. A month later, the 6’10” forward posted a Snapchat video of him walking down the street, exclaiming something along the lines of, “This five. Number 25, Ben Simmons. Bout to do work this year (at LSU). You can catch me on the Lakers next year.”
Philly to spoil Lakers party?
There have been instances in the past of high lottery picks manipulating their way to the team of their choice. However, the team that wins the lottery is still entitled to first dibs at the best player in a draft class. Last year, the Sixers drafted Jahlil Okafor without ever working out or interviewing the Duke prospect. Okafor was expected to go to the Lakers and therefore never visited the Sixers prior to the draft. In other words, Simmons could choose to ignore the Sixers but the decision isn’t his.
In 2007, Kevin Durant preferred dropping No.2 to his hometown franchise of Seattle SuperSonics. Even though he worked out for Portland Trailblazers, who eventually drafted Greg Oden, it was crystal clear from the onset that Durant wanted to play in Seattle. Will we see something similar this June?
The Vertical report also revealed that Simmons and his agent, Rich Paul, prefer Los Angeles to maximize on business opportunities which includes a lucrative shoe deal with either Nike or Adidas.
“The early strategy from Simmons and his Klutch Sports Group representation was believed to be a desire to sign a shoe deal before the draft lottery, but they aren’t satisfied with the Nike offer, sources said. They’re hoping that if the Lakers land the top overall pick – which they have a 19.9 percent chance of doing – Nike will move closer to matching adidas’ offer.”
Unfortunately for Ben Simmons & Co, the Lakers couldn’t win the lottery. But there is still a very strong possibility that Simmons wears Purple & Gold next season.