In the immediate aftermath of the NBA Draft Lottery, the Liberty Ballers staff jumped for joy and did little other than gush about finally winning something. Later that evening, I sent out an email with a simple premise to try to get a quick read of where our heads were at.
*Law and Order voice* these are our stories:
Kyle Neubeck: Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram? Talk to me.
Sohil Doshi: It depends, which big man are we going to move?
Roy Burton: I need to sleep on this. I was #TeamIngram three hours ago, but now that the No. 1 pick is an actual, tangible thing, I don't know.
Jake Pavorsky: I can't put together words at the moment, everyone give it the night to think.
Marc Whittington: I am drunk. Thinking about roundtables is a joke. Good day, good sirs.
Jake Fischer: Just ate a burger at this weird late-night place around the corner from Pavorsky's apartment. But I still have a clear enough mind and stomach to say Ingram. Better fit and higher ceiling, in my opinion. Besides, who needs Simmons when you have THE HOMIE DARIO?
Justin F.: My head says Simmons.
My heart says Ingram.
My liver says I'm drunk.
Sean O'Connor: As the only sober one, I'm... reserving judgment (Draft Express videos are going on when I get home) but I'm still Team BPA.
Mike Baumann: I'm sober too. Apparently I spaced out my drinks such that I never got rowdy. This sucks. I want my money back.
Mike Levin: AHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Neubeck: I don't think I'm going to be able to come to a decision for a bit. Part of the beauty of having 1 and 4 was the idea of being able to draft a premium (more like premium-lite) compliment alongside your chosen star, e.g. a player like Jamal Murray that would work alongside Simmons, or a Kris Dunn in the event they took Ingram.
I know it sounds great to draft Simmons and then just "get shooters", but how many teams in the current climate are letting good shooters get away? At least ones with any *real* value that aren't defensive sieves or totally one-dimensional. It'd be great if we could walk into the orchard and just pluck three-and-D guys off a tree, but they're the most coveted players in basketball right now.
Trades are coming with the big guys and I'm sure they could get decent compliments back for them, I'm just much warier of building around Simmons than most.
Fischer: Those are great points, Kyle.
I just want to be on record with one more thing: Anyone who preferred No. 2 over the No. 1 pick is a coward. You'd rather not have to make that choice so you're not one day held accountable? That is so weak. Apparently many GMs told Chad Ford that was their preference. I really hope Bryan Colangelo was not one of them. If you don't have the balls to make the decision at No. 1, you shouldn't be an NBA executive at all.
Pavorsky: I think I want Ben Simmons, but truthfully, I might be happier with Brandon Ingram. Finding a fit for all the big men was such a pain in the ass last year, and adding Simmons plus Dario Saric to the fold would make things more annoying.
Simmons does have the added dimension of being a good enough passer/ball handler to play point guard, but I feel weird about playing him out of position just because we have so many big men. He's good at bringing the ball up in the half court and does have court vision, I just don't like the idea of having him as your full-time point guard.
Ingram fits an immediate need, and I think that's something the team is valuing this year, whether right or wrong. Brett Brown has mentioned it a little, and it just makes things easier for Colangelo because he didn't try to over complicate it. I don't really think he can go wrong either way.
At the end of the day I'll still take Simmons, but that's because I'm not against trying to move one of our bigs.
Whittington: Arguing for any player with the number one pick because he fits better is so, so naive. It's exactly the opposite of everything that this team spent the last three years striving for. If the team selects Ingram first, it better be because they think he's going to be the better player, and not because he allows them to hold onto Okafor or Noel for an extra 12 months.
The team needs to move a center, if not two of them. They can try to delay it as long as they want, but sooner or later, the rubber is going to meet the road and Colangelo's hand will be forced. That's not a reason to pass on a player who could legitimately be a perennial MVP candidate and provide the team with a uniquely destructive creative fulcrum to pair with its best big men.
You use the number one pick to select the player you deem to have the best chance of becoming a franchise-altering player, not to select a player who fits on a team that won 10 games. There's a case to be made that Ingram is a better prospect than Simmons. I don't agree with it, but the selection better be predicated on that belief, not a fear of getting too little value when you decide to move on from Okafor, Noel, or Saric.
Now that I've railed against the fit argument... I like Simmons.
Fischer: I think when evaluating the Sixers moves this offseason, you cannot think about adding and subtracting from a 10-win team. You have to factor in Joel Embiid and Dario Saric into the equation. And when Embiid is considered actually a part of this roster, I think it's perfectly fair to think of the player you take at No. 1's fit alongside him. And that opinion is absolutely derived from my wholehearted belief that Embiid will be a perennial MVP candidate, a cross between Andre Drummond and Karl-Anthony Towns. So do keep that in mind.
But fit also comes into play in Kyle's point. It's not as easily done than said to "just surround Simmons" with shooters. Allen Crabbe is about to command $15 million annually because he can maybe shoot consistently at 38 percent from three over the course of a full season while also defending. That context is really, really important surrounding Simmons.
I mostly lean towards Ingram because he's a legitimate alpha dog. Every single Duke player gushed about him. I was closely around him for four days during the first round of the NCAA Tournament. His dad is a gem of a blue-collar dude who actually missed traveling to the first round because he didn't want to take off work. On the contrary, there have been so many terrifying whispers about Simmons' personality. I can understand skipping the Combine, but why the hell do you not show up to the Lottery? What goes on upstairs is just as important as a player's skill set. Draymond Green is an excellent example of the positive. Kwame Brown is the other end of the spectrum. Simmons' intangibles scare me, man.
Max Rappaport: Have to agree with Marc here. I'd say that at this moment I'm probably leaning 65-35 toward Ben Simmons, but no matter which direction Colangelo and the Sixers go the decision has to be made with "best player available" top of mind.
Outside of a (hopefully) healthy Joel Embiid, nobody on this current roster matters more than Simmons or Ingram would, so I'm not making any decision at #1 with Okafor, Noel, Saric, Grant, etc. in mind. I think both Simmons and Ingram fit really well next to Embiid (honestly, who wouldn't?), so I'm not really concerned about that anyway. I'm hopeful that the Sixers will pick the player they think has the highest upside. Let's just hope they choose correctly.
Matt Carey: First off, let me state that I'm fine with either of them. Throw this back in my face when I'm slamming whoever the pick is next month.
When people talk about fit with Ingram, for me, the appeal isn't his ability to fit with this team as currently constructed, but rather the ability to fit with any team as constructed. If you pick Ingram, there's not really any limits to the type of players you can surround him with. You have a lot more margin for error.
With Simmons, you absolutely need certain types of players, and those players are above-average shooters at the 1-3 and a center who isn't a paint clogger. All of a sudden, every pick going forward you make has to be for fit because you can't pick guys who don't complement your star.
Now, if you think Simmons is more likely to be a top 5 player than Ingram by a significant margin, pick Simmons. You don't pass on a star because it might be tough to find a serviceable 2-guard some day. I think the margins are a lot closer than most, though. If you ask me today, I think I would pick Ingram because I think he's going to be great and as a bonus, he allows you to maximize the talent around him. I'm glad it's not my decision (which apparently qualifies me to be the general manager of several high-lottery teams).
I promise you, I will flip flop on this a million times between now and June 23. I'm going to be your least favorite politician, and by draft day, I will have talked myself into both and also convinced myself that both have irredeemable flaws.
Burton:God bless Brandon Ingram, but players of his ilk come around every so often. Conversely, Ben Simmons is a rare combination of size, athleticism and playmaking ability that is nearly impossible to pass up. Both players will have excellent careers and make multiple All-Star teams, but only one - Simmons - has the potential to be a franchise player.
I understand the concerns about fit, but drafting Ingram simply because he slots in nicely next to Okafor and Noel - two players the team isn't necessarily committed to, anyway - would be short-sighted. Simmons is already a fine complement to your current cornerstone (Joel Embiid), and if he ever develops a competent mid-range game, the Sixers could have one of the most talented frontlines in recent memory.
Neubeck: I'll close with this -- end of the day, I probably take Simmons. The risk of missing out on a potential superstar, difficult as fit might be on this team and any future permutations of it, outweighs my concern about his jumper. But if I was in Colangelo's position, there would be plenty of deliberation between now and the draft.