Technically, the Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday, but the Los Angeles Lakers may have been the real winners. That’s because the Lakers, who received the No. 2 pick, don’t have to choose between Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.
They just get whoever falls.
“I’d go with Ingram,” CBSSports.com NBA writer Matt Moore said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think Simmons, with the way that he reacted late in the season, that’s an issue for me. It’s tough because you don’t want to overtly criticize a 19-year-old kid, but if you’re putting as much stock in your franchise as you are with the No. 1 pick, you need to feel good about it. So I like Ingram. I like his combination of skill, especially in the modern NBA. As he gets bigger, he can grow into a small-ball four. There’s a lot that I think you can do with Ingram versus a concern over not only character stuff, but his jump shot is so broken with Simmons that I have some concerns about that working out. I will tell you I know that several executives are very much hoping that they land No. 2 so they don’t have to make the choice.”
Simmons, who turns 20 in July, was one of the best all-around players in college basketball this season, averaging 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists. But he was unable to lead LSU to the NCAA Tournament, much less deep into March. Ingram, meanwhile, quickly became a go-to player for Duke, averaging 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds and leading the Blue Devils to the Sweet 16. Both are long, rangy prospects that project well at the next level.
But deciding between the two? Good luck.
“This is a year where you’re stuck in a situation of you have to make that call, and if you’re wrong, it winds up being you’re the guy who passed over the obvious candidate and how could you not see this is coming?” Moore explained. “If you land No. 2, even if that guy doesn’t work out, you’re able to say, ‘I didn’t have the No. 1 pick.’ It takes all of the pressure off of you. Some GMs very much want the opportunity to make that choice. They feel confident in their scouting, but these two guys are so close. That’s what I think creates a lot of the consternation over having to choose between two guys who, quite honestly, don’t project as Hall of Fame-level players and you’re trying to decide between them and you need to land the pick. It makes for a very tough choice.”
The NBA Draft will be held at the Barclays Center on June 23.