With the NBA Draft a month away, the consensus has the Los Angeles Lakers taking either Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons with the second overall pick. The merits of both players can (and will) be debated, but in general most see Ingram as the better fit for the Lakers and Simmons as the player with the most upside.
Simmons is essentially a point guard in the body of a power forward and has similar weaknesses to those of current Lakers’ four-man Julius Randle, which could create issues if the two were to share the court. Simmons also needs the ball in his hands to be effective, which makes a partnership with former high school teammate D’Angelo Russell a potentially awkward fit.
That said, count Kevin Goorjian, Simmons’ high school coach while he was in Australia, among those who believe that the 6’10” wunderkind would have no trouble meshing with the Lakers. Goorjian made his case in an interview with Sporting News, who asked about his potential fit in Los Angeles:
“If he ended up in LA, that would be just fantastic. But wherever he ends up, he is going to make an impact and help an NBA team. I believe he is going to be an All-Star…He is going to be special. He just has to stay injury-free and keep developing.”
In spite of Goorjian’s confidence, there are now some, like noted NBA draft analysis site draftexpress.com, who have moved Ingram into the pole position. Simmons has been criticized for his inability to shoot from the perimeter, which has weakened his hold on the top spot.
To Goorjian, this would be a mistake, though he’s certainly biased towards his former protege:
“There was a quote that came up that if you get the No. 1 pick and you don’t take Simmons you should be fired. I’m totally behind that. He is the No. 1 pick. It’s clear.”
Despite what Goorjian believes, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the 76ers ultimately select Ingram, especially considering their need for a swingman who can shoot and the persistent rumors that Simmons may prefer to land in Los Angeles.
The Simmons vs Ingram debate will likely rage on for some time, especially since the 76ers appear to be disinclined to tip their hand about which way they are leaning. Regardless, Lakers fans can rest assured that either way the purple and gold will be adding a quality young talent on June 23rd.