Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are the best prospects available in the forthcoming NBA Draft. The Philadelphia 76ers, who won the draft lottery Tuesday, are still undecided whether to go with the LSU prodigy or the lanky wing from Duke.
While Simmons has drawn comparisons with LeBron James and Magic Johnson, many pundits reckon that Ingram has the tools to emulate Kevin Durant down the road. Brett Brown, coach of the Sixers, is still doing his homework. “The truthful answer from our side is … we are still digging in. We are still acquiring information,” Brown told ESPN LA Radio’s Russillo and Kanell.
Ben Simmons vs Brandon Ingram: Two-horse race
Brown said the team will closely evaluate both players during pre-draft workouts before coming to a conclusion. “The mock drafts obviously favor Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons. We get that. But we very much are still going through the process of trying to learn as much as we can. The responsibility of trying to get this right carries a lot of weight.”
On Tuesday, several reports emerged that Brown and Sixers were leaning towards Simmons, due to the coach’s close ties with the Australian basketball circuit. Brown was an assistant coach for the Melbourne Tigers in the late 1980s and 1990s when Dave Simmons, Ben’s father, was the star player of the NBL franchise. Brown is also reportedly close friends with the Simmons family.
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When asked about Ben Simmons, Brown couldn’t help but stop raving. “He’s got a hint of Magic, and at times you can see a younger LeBron where you are not sure what position he is. One moment you think he is a 4 (power forward), maybe he is a 3 (small forward), he looks comfortable handling the ball,” the Sixers coach told Fox Sports.
Brown reckoned that most scouts were aware of Simmons’ true skill set. “When you say, ‘What is his identifiable elite NBA skill?’ most people will go immediately to passing. When you take that collection of comments, and you add it into a 6-foot-10 frame, the comparison to those two players could be a little reckless and ambitious, but there is no denying he really does come to the draft with a very unique skill package.”
When asked about concerns from several scouts regarding Simmons’ shooting form, Brown pointed to San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard who developed a jump shot after entering the league. “I’m just very aware of Ben’s situation. I’m aware of his junior coaches throughout Ben’s entire life, and when you look at his form — no differently to when we drafted Kawhi Leonard with the Spurs — one of the assessments we had to make was, was this shot transferable to the NBA? Was it a total rebuild or was it a little bit of a makeover?
“I think that his form isn’t one that you have to blow up and start over. I think it can translate,” added the former Spurs assistant coach and protégé of Gregg Popovich.
Though the jury is still out, it’s hard to foresee Sixers passing on a potential franchise-changer like Ben Simmons.