There’s a certain kind of player that has become extra valuable in the modern NBA. One who toggles between the perimeter and interior with ease; is able to defend multiple spots; and can make plays for himself and his teammates.
LeBron James certainly fits that mold, as does fellow superstar Kevin Durant. But less starry names do, too – Draymond Green is the best example, and a host of young players hope to eventually follow in his footsteps as an all-encompassing and position-less two-way force.
If high school hype and early returns from his surely fleeting college career are any indication, Ben Simmons will own that distinction sooner rather than later.
Hoop-heads have known the LSU freshman’s name for years. He was at or near the top of his prep class since his early teenage days, and has done nothing in the interim to project anything but imminent NBA stardom. Simmons is the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. Why? Just take a look at the video above.
We’ve been gushing about the 18-year-old for months. His blend of size, athleticism, and innate playmaking ability is exceedingly rare. Simmons has often been called a poor man’s LeBron for that blend of unique attributes. For our money, though, a more apt comparison – if he reaches his ceiling, of course – is a slightly bigger Grant Hill. The pride of Australia doesn’t quite have the generational explosiveness that James does; his speed, quickness, and leaping ability is better characterized as “stellar” than “otherworldly.”
That’s not clear in highlights of Simmons’ awesome exhibition performance against the Sydney Kings, but will be once he reaches the next level. What could separate him from Hill, though, are thick shoulders and a wide base that suggest he’ll eventually be big enough to play power forward full-time. Remember how the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offense opens up when James shifts down to small-ball 4? A fully evolved Simmons could have a similar impact for 48 minutes.
Oh, here’s one more thing to whet your appetite:
But sorry, NBA fans. You won’t get to see Simmons on the biggest stage until the 2016-2017 season. As you can see, however, watching him feast on lower-level SEC competition over next year should be quite the consolation.