The date is June 23, 2016, at Barclays Center. The top prospects of the collegiate level and overseas have gathered with their hopes of being selected during the NBA Draft. Going in, the top three choices– in no order– were Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, and Jaylen Brown, with Dragan Bender a sleeper international prospect and Kentucky star Jamal Murray making a late surge. The Philadelphia 76ers had the top pick.
Well, the Sixers, right in the thick of The Process, selected Ben Simmons, a point guard out of Louisiana State University. Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown went second and third, respectively, and nobody batted an eye.
Fast forward almost five years to the exact date, and Simmons is under fire after a disastrous playoff performance and another early exit for the Sixers after they lost to the Atlanta Hawks in a seven-game, second-round series. Sure, the Hawks played terrifically, and sure, the Sixers were missing Danny Green, but Simmons has been at the brunt end of the blame, especially after his free throw struggles stole the show.
With that being said, the question remains: Did the Sixers make a mistake taking Ben Simmons with the top choice?
The answer is simple: NO.
Yes, I am well aware that Simmons was awful in the playoff run, but at the time, Simons was the clear-cut No.1 choice, and it wasn’t even a debate. His highlights and tape from LSU show exactly why he was easily lauded as the top choice.
Ben Simmons at LSU pic.twitter.com/VRsjoYF89j
— Chris Williamson (@CWilliamson44) June 21, 2021
A guy his size who could do things like THAT? Yes, sign me up, and the Sixers believed every bit. With all due respect to Ingram and Brown, Simmons was the best coming out of college that specific year.
In hindsight, it is always easy to look back and say the team made a mistake, but at the time, it was the right choice. Remember Anthony Bennett going first overall? How about Greg Oden?
Looking back, those picks look awful. At that exact moment, they were home run picks. Bennett was sensational in college, and Oden was a man against boys at Ohio State.
That is why general managers and NBA front office personnel have such difficult jobs, and that is why the NBA Draft is always a hit-or-miss situation. Either way, Simmons was a finalist for DPOY and was named an All-Star, so don’t give up just yet.
He has been through a pair of head coaches and multiple different players next to him. Rest assured, Simmons did not perform well in the playoffs, and there is always reasoning to be upset with him. However, the Sixers made the right choice at the time, and if Simmons can improve his game, he can fully blossom into the All-Star and defensive standout he was in the regular season.