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Stiffs NBA Draft Series: Ben Simmons

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The enigmatic power forward from Australia has been No. 1 on draft boards for years, but after a rocky season at LSU, there is controversy over selecting him with the first overall pick.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Stats

Here are the per game stats that Ben Simmons had in 33 games at Louisiana State University.

PTS TRB AST STL BLK TOV FG% 3P% FT%
19.2 11.8 4.8 2.0 0.8 3.4 56.0 33.3 67.0

Strengths

Playmaking - This shouldn't be new information to anyone that has watched Simmons play. He is extremely talented at making plays in transition, with the ability to dribble with both hands. He can make accurate passes with both hands on the dribble and when set, from the perimeter and inside the post.

Physical tools - Simmons is fast, bouncy, quick, strong, tall, and long. He measures in at 6'10" with a 7'0" wingspan, and his body fat is 7.90 percent. He uses his speed and leaping ability to lead and finish in transition. He is able to use his agility to beat individual defenders in the post. He uses his height to make passes other guards wouldn't on the perimeter, and can finish in traffic with his strength.

Defense - Simmons played out of position at LSU, and still managed to finish 32nd in the country in steals, the most steals in the nation for any player taller than 6'5". His physical tools allow him to switch onto guards on the perimeter, and his length allows him to contest shots near the rim. He is a capable rebounder, with a 26.8 percent defensive rebounding rate on the season.

Weaknesses

Jump shot - Simmons attempted three 3-point shots all season, making one. Buddy Hield or Denzel Valentine he is not. His jumper is something that he'll definitely need to demonstrate in individual workouts, because there is not a lot of game tape of him shooting outside the paint. On the flip side, he was able to get to the rim nearly every possession, and had a free throw rate of 76.9 percent (he averaged nine free throw attempts per game).

Attitude - Simmons year at LSU was a disaster. He feuded with teammates, was ruled ineligible, LSU missed the NCAA tournament, and he dropped out of school once basketball was done to prepare for the draft. Meanwhile, draft darling Brandon Ingram had a strong season, Duke made the NCAA tournament, and Ingram was writing thoughtful articles for The Players Tribune. How much different would things be for Simmons if he had attended Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke, North Carolina, or another top-tier college program?

Pro Comparisons

LeBron James - James has been getting to the rim at will since he entered the league, and if Simmons was able to do that at the collegiate level. It's not like teams don't know what's coming - they just are powerless to stop it. Simmons combination of ballhandling, court vision, and passing are lethal when mixed with his speed, strength, and vertical.

Lamar Odom - Simmons isn't dating a Kardashian or Jenner (although him hooking up with Kendall after Jordan Clarkson would be straight cash for clicks), but his on-court skills are reminiscent of Odom's. Odom had similar height and physical ability, and was a key piece of the Lakers championships along with Kobe and Pau.

Draymond Green - Simmons doesn't have the 3-point shot, but neither did Green when he entered the league. Simmons has the physical tools to be as good of a defender as Green is. He can switch through every position, he's able to block shots and steal passes, and rebound missed shots. He'll have to work in the gym on his crane kick and wrestling takedowns if he wants to truly be Green's equal however.

Fit with the Nuggets

Projected Draft SpotSB Nation - Not in the first round

Draft Express - 1

CBS Sports (Vecenie) - 1

Bleacher Report (Wasserman) - 1

NBADraft.net - 1

Final Thoughts

Ben Simmons is life.

Simmons played primarily at center for the LSU Tigers, which is not (I can't repeat this often enough) is not the position he will play in the NBA. Any discussion about his defense at LSU that doesn't mention this can be disregarded. He is a power forward that could play center in small-ball "death" lineups. Against less-talented opponents on the collegiate level, he still was tasked with defending players larger than he was, and that caused him to struggle at times.

Whatever team lands Simmons in the draft is going to get a player that will make a huge difference for their franchise. The top two teams also happen to be major markets, which lowers the odds of him leaving for greener pastures in seven years. He's going to be such a good Laker, which is so frustrating.

You can find more detailed breakdown of Simmons' strengths, weaknesses, and fit with the Nuggets in the Stiffs Prospect Watch on him done earlier this year.

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SAVE THE DATE THURSDAY 6/23
STIFFS NIGHT OUT: 2016 NBA DRAFT

Join your fellow Stiffs as we find out what the Nuggets will do with their THREE first round selections during the 2016 NBA Draft. We will gather at our home bar Jake's Sports & Spirits (3800 Walnut Street) around 5:30pm and Jake's will extend happy hour drink prices for us all draft long. And we'll play Denver Nuggets draft trivia for prizes, including individual game tickets during the 2016-17 season. We hope to see you there!

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