Sitting in pole position for the No. 1 pick at the start of March, Sixers fans can start getting excited about their favorite prospect they won't get thanks to the bounce of lottery balls. The (assumed) 2016 class has come on strong recently, but it appears Ben Simmons' status as the No. 1 overall prospect has not changed.
In Chad Ford's latest mock (4.0, for those keeping score at home), Ford tabs LSU's swiss-army knife forward as the man to save the Sixers if in fact they draft first overall:
Brandon Ingram has closed the gap between himself and Simmons. And in some ways, Ingram is a better fit with the Sixers. They will have a smooth, elite passing 4 in Dario Saric -- when he comes to the U.S. -- and Philadelphia desperately needs shooting. Ingram is much better from deep than Simmons.
However, all indications from NBA scouts and GMs are that Simmons remains firmly in the lead for the No. 1 pick, wherever it lands, including Philly.
While Ford seems confident in Simmons' coronation, I'm not so sure that's the case any longer, or if it will be when the draft rolls around. After struggling out of the gate, Brandon Ingram has compiled a legitimate case to be the top selection in June, even aside from fit issues. As Marc detailed back in January, players with his statistical profileand physical tools don't emerge often, and Ingram is over a year younger than Simmons to boot.
The important thing for the Sixers is the existence of a debate at all. As Negadelphians will be sure to remind you on lottery night, "There are no guarantees!" so strong alternatives provide peace of mind should the Sixers get jumped for the No. 1 pick.
Elsewhere in the mock, Ford has the Sixers selecting Washington's Dejounte Murray with the Miami Heat pick at 23 and French guard Isaiah Cordinier with the OKC pick at 27. Both come with turnover concerns, and Murray is a sub 30 percent shooter from deep (which would be a killer on the current roster) but each represents a talent and athleticism upgrade at the guard spots. Cordinier would theoretically boost the team's shooting as well -- he's knocking shots down at a ridiculous 55.6 percent from deep in the French league this season.
Months left to go, but you can bet the scouting department's eyes are on the prize(s) ahead. Regardless of the power structure in place, the top selection will come down to Simmons or Ingram. I'm still not sure where I'll end up falling in the debate, but the Sixers should be over the moon if they get either one.