When it comes to evaluating draft prospects, it’s fairly common for there to be a consensus No. 1-ranked player heading into the NBA Draft each year. Once that consensus No. 1 player is established, it can be hard for talent evaluators to veer away from groupthink, even if that player no longer appears to be the best in his draft class.
Back in 2016, LSU star freshman Ben Simmons was widely considered to be the sure-fire No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. As a 6-foot-10 point forward, he was receiving some LeBron James comparisons for his uncanny playmaking ability at that size.
And even though he had some clear flaws — highlighted by his infamous lack of a consistent jump shot — most scouts were so enamored by Simmons’ defense, versatility, mobility and passing that they were willing to overlook his shortcomings.
However, if you look back at several of Simmons’ college scouting reports, there is one scary accurate evaluation of his game that makes you feel like it’s part of the latest LeBron bit on Twitter.
ESPN’s lead NBA Draft analyst, Jonathan Givony, went against the grain, speaking his mind on everyone else’s consensus No. 1 pick.
Take a look at the highlights of his scouting report on Simmons below. You can find the full scouting report here.
Ben Simmons NBA Draft scouting report
Givony on Simmons’ competitive demeanor
“Simmons’ lack of competitiveness in some crucial games has raised questions about his character as a basketball player. While many top picks succumb to the NBA star lifestyle and emerge as average competitors, it’s rare to see that at the collegiate level. …
“Simmons has displayed an apathy for defense, contact and delivering winning plays in crucial moments. Those troubling revelations in Simmons’ game are cause for concern among decision-makers on lottery teams with whom we’ve had contact.”
Givony on Simmons’ empty box scores
“Simmons’ box scores have grown increasingly hollow. … Simmons has displayed a penchant for stat-mongering like few players in recent memory, seeming to pad his numbers in blowouts. At times, it appears he only passes when guaranteed an assist and chases home-run plays at inopportune times in search of a highlight. Simmons seems to value those things over winning.”
Givony on teams already figuring out how to defend Simmons
“The report on defending Simmons in the half-court is well known and was utilized effectively in recent weeks. Teams put smaller players on Simmons, backing off him and daring him to shoot. Simmons seems to have zero confidence in his outside shot and becomes passive when guarded this way.”
Givony on people questioning Simmons’ character
“The concerns about Simmons’ character didn’t magically appear the moment he arrived on campus in Baton Rouge. Those sentiments have also been expressed by members of the Australian national team who have spent time with him at the junior and senior levels.
“Australian players and coaches who have been around him don’t speak about him in flattering terms, calling him ‘the Yank’ to highlight how different he is compared with most of the players from that country, and perhaps highlight how much moving to the United States at a young age and immersing himself in the AAU world has shaped him. Those who know him best say he needs things to revolve around him on and off the court and that he’s often been close-minded to coaching or instruction.”
Ben Simmons college stats and accolades
Simmons was still dominant during his freshman season at LSU, taking home a number of awards and honors during his lone college season. He was a Consensus All-American, First Team All-SEC, SEC Rookie of the Year and SEC All-Freshman First Team.
Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals over 33 games, but LSU missed the NCAA Tournament with a 19-14 record (11-7 SEC).
|Ben Simmons (2015-16)||34.9||56.0||33.3||67.0||11.8||4.8||2.0||0.8||3.4||2.8||19.2|
Simmons only attempted three 3-pointers during his freshman season, going 1-for-3 from long range.