Duke’s Brandon Ingram is certainly an impressive talent. He’s 6’9″ but somehow glides to the basket smoothly and effortlessly. His long stride means that even from behind the three-point line (where he shoots 41 percent), the rim is only a couple of steps away. Ingram was also blessed with pterodactyl wings for arms, measuring a ridiculous 7’3″. He may only weigh 195 pounds or so, but he can disrupt passing lanes and protect the rim with his seemingly never-ending limbs.
In spite of Ingram’s impressive skill set, he isn’t the odds-on favorite to be taken first in the 2016 NBA Draft. Instead, LSU’s Ben Simmons is projected to be the top pick by the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons’ versatility, passing, and ability to run the floor are certainly enticing, and he spent the entire college season as the favorite to be the first player off the board.
However, according to ESPN Analytics Specialists Sharon Katz and Paul Sabin, the belief that Simmons is the best prospect in the draft is wrong:
Despite the consensus among scouts, these projections question whether Simmons is truly the best player in the class. Ingram has the highest draft grade, based on total projected SPM, and he is most likely to play at the level of an All-Star or starter during his first five seasons.
That Ingram rates so highly shouldn’t be that surprising considering his skill set and age (he is 14 months younger than Simmons), but it is a bit jarring nonetheless. With the draft less than two weeks away, almost everyone has had the Sixers locked in on Simmons. Though the analytics believe Simmons has nearly as much upside as Ingram, they believe it comes with a greater risk:
In comparison, Simmons has similar upside, but he comes with a far greater risk. In fact, among the top 10 college prospects in the projections, no player had a higher bust potential than Simmons.
Currently, Brandon Ingram is projected to end up with the Los Angeles Lakers with the second overall pick. He worked out for the team on Thursday and sat down to chat with Lakers higher-ups at dinner the night before.
It has been reported that Ingram will work out for Philadelphia on Monday, and with Simmons still not scheduling workouts with any teams it’s always possible that the Sixers change their minds. Either way, the Lakers will be adding a young, talented player to their squad on June 23rd, but whether it will be Simmons or Ingram may be a bit more up in the air than most think.