Ben Simmons: The King Of The SEC
Is it obvious that I’m showing my age? When LeBron James was coming into the NBA, I was around six or seven years old and not interested in basketball at all; when Charlotte drafted Kobe, it was still five months until my birth.
Not getting into college basketball until 2008ish, I didn’t start to study draft prospects until 2011ish and, up until now, thought Andrew Wiggins was the best prospect I’d ever seen play.
I had gone back and watched tape of guys I missed in college and seeing Ben Simmons play at LSU is blowing most of them out of the water. If LeBron had gone to college, I imagine it would’ve looked a lot like how Simmons is playing.
Simmons is an extraordinarily athletic, positionless player who already has an NBA-level body. According to DraftExpress, Simmons weighs in at 240, 11 pounds heavier than what Nike listed at the Nike Hoop Summit, and listed at 6’10” in shoes with a 7’0.25″ wingspan. LSU recorded Simmons’ vertical at 41.5″, a fantastic number for someone of his size; this is a higher vert than Jason Richardson (39.5) and Tracy McGrady (40.0).
His length and athleticism helped him record the highest max vertical reach in recorded history at 12’6″, breaking D.J. Stephens mark of 12’5.5″ set in 2013.
Being frank, Simmons dominates his opponents and does what he wants, when he wants. If he feels like scoring, he’ll put his head down, take it to the basket, and score. His guard-like handle lets him attack off the dribble with remarkable efficiency, and his size renders defenders helpless in the post. His true shooting percentage of 63.7% is fourth best in the SEC.
He shoots about 60% on two-point attempts and gets a majority of his baskets around the hoop; he’s adept at getting to the free throw line and in all but four games has taken more than five free throws.
Ben Simmons has quickly built up his reputation as a willing, and lethal, passer. He leads the Tigers in APG with 5.2 and consistently finds, Hornsby, Quarterman, Victor, and Blakeney open and delivers pinpoint passes to them. His selflessness just makes his offensive game so much more lethal and an, even more, scary scorer.
He loves to crash the glass, and he’s very proficient at it. His 12.9 RPG leads the SEC and is second in the NCAA behind Evansville’s Egidijus Mockevius’ 14.3. When he grabs a defensive board, he’s a one-man fastbreak, much like LeBron James or Magic Johnson, and puts a ton of pressure on the defense because of his ability to score and willingness to pass.
On the offensive glass, Simmons is tough to box out, and if you decide to leave him, he’ll elevate and finish off the possession with a putback dunk.
According to College Basketball-Reference, Simmons’ TRB% is about 20%, meaning Simmons grabs one-fifth of all available rebounds when he’s on the floor.
Not much to talk about here. Ben Simmons’ perfect balance of size and athleticism lets him guard any position, and makes it a mismatch. Players bigger Simmons struggle with his quickness and athleticism, while smaller players that are quicker, struggle with his size.
Currently, Ben Simmons ranks 10th in the SEC in blocks per game with 1.4 and second in steals per game with 2.1; His DRtg per 100 is 92.1, and LSU is roughly six points better than their opponents with Simmons on defense.
I believe that perfection isn’t possible and can never be attained. With that said, Ben Simmons’ one flaw is that his outside shot isn’t at the same level as the rest of his game. But who cares, he’s dominant without it.
On a scale out of 100, Simmons gets a 99 from me. His ultimate test will come during the SEC tournament and, hopefully, the NCAA Tournament. He scores, rebounds, plays defense, and anything else you can imagine and boasts the fourth best PER in the NCAA, 34.2.
Ben Simmons is the clear number one pick of 2016’s NBA Draft regardless of what happens in March. He is the literal all-around package and will be an incredible asset on whatever team wins the lottery, and has the franchise-changing potential that some of the all-time greats possessed.
*Photo Credit: Yardbarker*