As we push closer to the NBA Draft, the debate regarding who should be taken with the first overall pick continues. However, it does feel like momentum is definitely on the side of LSU’s Ben Simmons, who is the favorite to be snatched away from the Lakers by the Philadelphia 76ers with the first overall pick.
ESPN draft expert Chad Ford is definitely on board with this line of thinking. He attended a workout featuring Simmons on Wednesday, and appeared on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia to discuss the young Australian’s progress:
“He’s been working out for two months […] His body looks great, he’s put on about 20 pounds since he has been in there…the thing I walked away most impressed with was how he is approaching the process itself. Very focused, very detailed, this is his life 24/7 now […] I think when it gets to Summer League you are going to see an improved Ben Simmons ”
Much of the discussion regarding Simmons has revolved around whether or not he has the correct mentality to become a star in the NBA. However, Based on what Ford saw that doesn’t appear to be a concern. Ford also noted that Simmons’ jumper looked much improved and while he isn’t on the level on Brandon Ingram as far as shooting goes, his jump shot is far from broken.
In any case, Ford made it clear that Simmons is the runaway favorite to be the top overall pick:
“I don’t think the Sixers were leaning Ingram…if the draft were today, it would be Simmons, and it would be in a landslide.”
For the Lakers, reports like these make it seem inevitable that Simmons, a lifelong Lakers fan who has long been linked to Los Angeles, will slip through their fingers just as Karl-Anthony Towns did last summer. Fortunately, Duke’s Brandon Ingram, the presumptive second pick, is a very exciting prospect in his own right and one that the Lakers would be thrilled to have.
If the Lakers do indeed end up with Ingram they will have to hope that the separation between he and Simmons isn’t as large as some believe it to be. The NBA Draft doesn’t take place until June 23rd, so expect the rumors to continue to heat up as Ingram and possibly Simmons begin to schedule workouts for teams.