Now that the Sixers know they'll have the pick of this year's draft litter, NBA pundits are almost split on who general manager Bryan Colangelo will select with the top overall pick. The two choices are obvious; it'll either be LSU point forward Ben Simmons or Duke's Brandon Ingram. In the best of five mock drafts, Ingram narrowly won out.
Sports Illustrated's Andrew Sharp (a lottery party attendee on Tuesday night) is on Team Simmons. He's banking on Simmons' talent triumphing over the team's current fit issues.
Absent a Klutch Sports power play, though, Simmons makes sense in Philadelphia. The Sixers would be betting on upside more than fit, and that's what most teams should do with the No. 1 pick. I like Ingram more, and he's probably the safer pick to turn into an All-Star—more natural scorer, better shooter, better defender—but Simmons has a combination of size and ability that give him the chance of being revolutionary. For a team that just spent three years going through hell to get this pick, it may make sense to bet big.
I think whenever you're gifted with the top overall pick, in most cases that means you're pretty clearly in a spot where just about every facet of a typical roster is a need. That means it's hard to justify taking one guy over the other just because they make more sense amongst your current core. Things have a tendency to workout poorly that way. Philadelphia does have a lot of talented bigs on the roster (plus Mr. Saric on the way), but until one of them steps up and really proves themselves, I think you have to go with Simmons. His ability to handle the ball and distribute to his teammates means he could be put in at point guard with two of Saric, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid on the floor at the same time. That sounds like a recipe for a ton of mismatches.
Adding to the draft class theme of sub-par shooters, Sharp also has the Sixers taking St. Joe's DeAndre Bembry and Washington's DeJounte Murray.
ESPN's Chad Ford is also in Ben Simmons corner as it pertains to the Sixers pick, something he's believed in all year.
Philadelphia coach knows [Simmons] from his days coaching in Australia. He desperately needs a playmaker, and new GM Bryan Colangelo wants a player who can contribute right now. Ingram will be tempting. They need shooting, and Ingram could really fit the bill. But right now, the odds are on Simmons going No. 1.
Brett Brown may be important in helping the Sixers gather more information on Simmons, but I don't know if he'll have any sway in terms of helping to make a decision. Bryan Colangelo didn't bring him in to coach the team, and there's no guarantee he'll continue to be here longterm. His input on either guy might not mean a ton.
Ford also has the Sixers selecting Dejounte Murray and UNLV shooting guard Patrick McCaw.
SBNation's Kevin O'Connor is riding the Ingram train, believing that he's the best guy for the Sixers at the end of the day.
Ingram is the type of player that can switch on defense, but opponents will likely have a hard time switching against him on offense. He can shoot over the top of small defenders or drive by slower ones. On defense, he’s currently underdeveloped, but his tremendous length (7'3 wingspan) gives him a chance to defend multiple positions. For the Sixers, it’s not an easy pick, but the right one.
At picks 24 and 26, O'Connor likes Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis (same!) and draft-and-stash center Ante Zizic, who currently plays in Croatia.
Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com also likes Ingram to the Sixers, citing his scoring ability.
Philadelphia's need for scoring gives Ingram the edge over Ben Simmons in what many teams consider a close call for who goes No. 1. Ingram was smooth as a freshman, with enough ball-handling skills to create his own shot on the perimeter or play above the rim when he moves inside. Even with rough patches in his transition to college, the NBA finds it easy to envision a small forward with great size who will need to get stronger as he gets older. Ingram does not turn 19 until September, just before training camp. "You can't expect anything out of him next year," a GM said. "He's so weak it's crazy."
For what it's worth, I think you can classify Simmons as a scorer too. He can get buckets around the rim at will, but in general he's definitely limited in terms of the different ways he can score. Ingram obviously has him beat there. In regards to Ingram being weak, that sounds like a GM trying to downplay his talent in the hopes he miraculously falls. He's a bit slight of frame, but put on 20 lbs. before he got to Duke last season and will continue to be able to add muscle. Ingram's game also isn't totally predicated on tough drives to the rim. His ability to step out and shoot means he'll be able to help immediately, regardless of his build. Will it take him a little longer to adjust to the pro game than Simmons? Probably. But to already chalk up his rookie season seems a little ridiculous to me.
Like O'Connor, Howard-Cooper has the Sixers snatching up Ulis but a different draft-and-stash, Spanish forward Juan Hernangomez.
DraftExpress's Jonathan Givony has the Sixers taking Ingram as well in his mock draft for The Vertical. Givony believes Ingram's shooting ability is what will make him stand out for Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is in desperate need of shooting, leading the 76ers to take Ingram over Ben Simmons. The Sixers can't afford to cut any corners in their rebuilding strategy. There are red flags surrounding Simmons' inability to help his team win games, as well as the fact that he is more than a year older than Ingram. In the minds of many, Ingram has surpassed Simmons.
Givony's been one of the more critical experts of Ben Simmons, mostly because of his behavior. I think some of it's a little overblown, but certainly not worth overlooking.