by Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Got no issue with Brandon Ingram.
He’s a real talent. A damn good basketball player. No doubt a quality prospect worth using a high pick to select him in next month’s NBA Draft.
But ahead of Ben Simmons?
Always waiting to hear a cacophony of rim shots whenever someone suggests such silliness.
Seriously, with no due respect to Duke University’s program, its overbearing fan base or its checkered past with producing anything better than journeymen in the pros, the fuss being made over what the 76ers should do at No. 1 on June 23 is a colossal waste of time.
It’s nothing more than the proverbial think tank flooding itself with conjecture, supposition and over-analysis while a life raft of sanity labeled “duh” rests just an arm’s length away yet somehow forever out of reach.
Think about it. Simmons, with his size, frame and wide-ranging skills, offers opportunity for success at not one, not two, not three … but five positions – just by his lonesome. He’s a 6-10, 240-pounder who can control the glass, run a halfcourt offense, lead the break in transition, defend inside or out, score in every way possible and impact any possession without taking a shot. Routinely.
Ingram is a power forward in height, Allen Iverson in build, and a square peg in a round hole at either small forward or shooting guard, the only positions he could possibly play at the highest level.
But, hey, he’s the second coming of Kevin Durant.
Umm, yeah, about that …
Not for nothing, KD may have been the same 6-9 as Ingram during his one-year stint at the University of Texas almost a decade ago, but he also dominated the competition. The dude averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. He was a first-team All-American. He carried the Longhorns into the NCAA Tournament in 2007. He also happened to check in at 215 pounds, a full 25 more than the supermodel-thin guy being compared to him.
Ingram, though, no doubt was good in his one-year deal at Duke.
He averaged 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. But he was not an All-American. He didn’t carry the Blue Devils into the NCAA Tournament. In reality, he wasn’t even the best player for Duke. Hell, he wasn’t even the best guy in Duke’s backcourt. That honor belonged to yet another annoying white guy for Coach K’s crew, fellow guard Grayson Allen, who not only led the team in scoring (21.6 ppg), but shot better than Ingram from the floor, 3-point land and the foul line … while carrying 5 more pounds on him despite being 5 inches shorter.
Frankly, Ingram may end up being the third-best pro player Duke sends to the NBA in this current three-year stretch once next year’s draft finishes, trailing Allen and current 76ers big man Jahlil Okafor.
Simmons may be better than all of them. Combined. Even with – gasp – that reputed godawful shooting touch that allowed him to shoot “only” 56.1 percent from the floor.
He averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists for Louisiana State, earning first-team All-America accolades. Yeah, got it. His team didn’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament. It opted to skip the NIT Tournament. Simmons was labeled as being aloof, or lazy, through it all.
Maybe he was … and, yet, he is still, far and away, a superior talent who not only has a higher ceiling than anyone else in this draft, Ingram included, but is the most NBA-ready right now.
It’s an odds game for the Sixers, and Simmons, by far, gives them the best ones.
Seriously, with no due respect to Duke University’s program, its overbearing fan base or its checkered past with producing anything better than journeymen in the pros, the fuss being made over what the 76ers should do at No. 1 on June 23 is a colossal waste of time. It’s nothing more than the proverbial think tank flooding itself with conjecture, supposition and over-analysis while a life raft of sanity labeled “duh” rests just an arm’s length away yet somehow forever out of reach.