Over the past couple of years, Philadelphia sports fans haven’t had too much to cheer about. The Eagles’ last postseason appearance was in 2013. The Flyers opened some eyes this year by tip-toeing into the playoffs, only to get bounced in the opening round. The Phillies, aside from their unprecedented success at the beginning of this year (which has already made a turn for the worse), haven’t been competitive since 2012.
Then there’s the Sixers. Three years of tanking, and it’s finally starting to look like there might have been a method to all the madness, as the Sixers will select first in this year’s draft.
Yes, having the first pick is certainly exciting when the franchise that owns that said first pick has won 47 games in the last three years combined (10 teams won at least that many games this year alone). However, there’s still a decision that needs to be made.
Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram.
It seems like the city is rather torn about this, but for me, the choice is an easy one.
Here’s how I think the first round will turn out.
- Sixers - Ben Simmons, F, LSU
The narrative on Ben Simmons is that he can’t shoot. In reality, he just chose not to shoot. The Aussie attempted just three 3-pointers (made one) during his lone year at LSU. All the Sixers fans who want Ingram will immediately jump to this for their first argument on why they’d rather have the lanky forward from Duke. Simmons’ shot is bound to improve with coaching and some extra time in the gym (think Kawaih Leonard and LeBron James, who were terrible shooters coming into the league). Ingram may be a better shooter at the moment, but Simmons is better in literally every other aspect of the game. And I’ll gladly take the latter.
- Lakers - Brandon Ingram, F Duke
Enough with the Kevin Durant comparisons. Just because they have similar body frames and play the same position doesn’t necessarily make them comparable. Durant was so much more polished coming out of Texas. That’s not a knock on Ingram, that’s just high praise for Durant. Ingram is still a helluva player, and has the potential to become one of the league’s elite scorers. But he doesn’t handle the ball all that impressively and he’s not a great rebounder – a trend that will likely continue until he adds some meat to his bones.
- Celtics - Dragan Bender, F, Israel
He’s easily the best international player in this class, and he has loads of potential. At just 18 years old, Bender has the tools to become a premier stretch-four who could create more space for Isaiah Thomas and Co. I don’t see the Celtics passing him up, but if they do, I can’t imagine he’d fall too far.