The Next LeBron?

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Raffy Ledesma

Raffy Ledesma

NBA 2016 No. 1 draft pick Ben

Simmons will definitely be an excellent player. The only question really is his ceiling and how far he will develop. Already, his excellent game and high basketball IQ has drawn comparisons to the best all-around player this league has ever seen – LeBron James. There is much hype surrounding this 20-year old and it may well be justified.

At 6-10 and 240 pounds, Simmons has a lot of upside since he can play multiple positions despite being slotted as a small forward. Like LeBron, he possesses superb court vision which makes him a great playmaker. He is also unselfish and has good ball control. Simmons is also an excellent rebounder and is nearly unstoppable in transition.

In his lone year in college wherein he played in 33 games, Simmons was impressive, leading Louisiana State in most statistical categories. He racked up an average of 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.0 steals on 56 percent shooting. His only weakness is his three-point (33 percent) and free throw shooting (67 percent).

During the NBA Summer League, there were instances wherein I thought Simmons was just too unselfish. He would pass up wide open shots to feed teammates. Most of the time it works but he really needs to start scoring more so he can live up to all the expectations. Some games he played like a future MVP, and in some, like a typical 20-year old with an awesome skill set.

Obviously, he needs to work more on some of his weaknesses. For starters, he needs to have a more reliable mid-range jumper so opponents can’t sag off on him. He also needs to increase his range all the way beyond the arc to keep defenses honest. Sometimes, he seems hesitant to go strong to the basket since he will be fouled, exposing his poor free throw shooting.

From an objective standpoint, his team the Philadelphia 76ers may have been better off with drafting Brandon Ingram who needs the ball less and is a deadly shooter. But you just don’t pass on a once in a generation player like Simmons who can do it all. The 76ers now have to make a decision and trade one of their big men to clear the logjam in the frontcourt with Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Robert Covington and now, Ben Simmons.

The 76ers have deliberately tanked in the past three seasons and have gotten high draft picks as a result. This is the first time they have actually drafted a potential franchise player who may finally stop the bleeding.

Simmons has a great opportunity to turn this team around in his rookie season and be the “man.” The 76ers are loaded with talent and just need a leader to emerge. He definitely has the skill set, talent, and athleticism to be the next LeBron James and then some. It is up to him to make it happen.

raffyrledesma@yahoo.com

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