Now that the NBA season is over and the lottery odds are set, it's time to do some hypothesizing! Let's take a look at where Benny might spend the rest of his basketball career, including a potential relocation to the Big Easy.
The Suitors (Ranked in terms of best fit for Simmons):
Boston (via Brooklyn pick) (15.6 Percent Chance to Win):
Ben Simmons needs Brad Stevens. This is the best fit from a development stand point for him, in addition to how malleable the Celtics roster is, meaning it can be easily changed to suit his strengths. They've got shooters, big and small, and a great system that Simmons could thrive in playing some version of the Evan Turner role. Stevens would give Benny a real identity and path forward, and Benny would give Ainge the centerpiece he's been looking for. It would also allow him to focus on packaging assets for a shot-blocker and more shooters to mesh with Simmons, Thomas, and whatever cast of B players he keeps (I would expect that to be headlined by Olynyk, and Avery Bradley.) In addition, if the rumored pursuits of K. Love or Boogie Cousins ever bear fruit, both have game's that should mesh with Simmons and that could put the Green back in contention sooner rather than later.
Minnesota (8.8 Percent Chance to Win):
The Infant Superteam! This one is really intriguing. Wiggins, Towns, and Simmons might challenge the Warriors in 3-4 years for interstellar basketball dominance, as I love the potential of the existing baby wolves even if Simmons lands elsewhere. If he did join, Minnesota has a bevy of attractive assets to trade and package for more veteran players (shooters), in addition to what should be ample cap-room to get the types of guys they'll target to speed up their development. Even if they continue the youth-movement, a decent improvement from Wiggins as a shooter and a resigning of Kevin Martin on the wing, in addition to a replacement PG with the ability to shoot slotted in for Rubio, could result in an extremely competitive team as soon as 17-18. He'd also have the benefit of not having to be the top banana right away, and maybe at all (Towns is going to rule the league, sooner rather than later.) The rest of the NBA will be rooting against this one.
Los Angeles (19.9 Percent Chance to Win):
Not the best fit because they already have two young promising players who need lots of touches to maximize their efficiency, but from a talent perspective this is obviously intriguing. Throw in the fact that DeAngelo Russell and Simmons were high school teammates and remain good friends, and it kicks the fit up a notch (not much, obviously, but pairing two young, promising players who happen to already have a great relationship and have played together before? Doesn't get much better than that). Randle would need to need to focus on extending his range and playing off the ball more for those two to coexist (if he wasn't completely replaced and traded away), and Clarkson maybe ends up as the odd-man out in terms of touches. That's okay, because he's a solid trade-chip in his own right, on a great contract and playing well the past two seasons.
Phoenix (11.9 Percent Chance to Win):
Meh. What at first glance seems like a very boring team to win the lottery, this actually is a better fit than you might think. They've got good young guards in Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, an ace young shooter with seemingly unlimited potential in Devin Booker, and the contracts to get loads and loads of cap-room in the next couple summers. Add-in Tyson Chandler (who, in his prime, was exactly the type of center you want to pair with Benny) and this team could be compelling, fun to watch, and loaded with potential. Not as much meat on this bone, but not a terrible destination by any means.
Philly (25 Percent Chance to Win):
What a meltdown Philly is. This is a worst case scenario for Benny, but they're also the most likely team to take Brandon Ingram or an "other" (Bryan Colangelo did take Andrea Bargnani first overall, let's not forget.) If they did take the Aussie, he'd be asked to be too much, do too much, way too soon. He and Jahlil Okafor can play together, but there are so many questions surrounding the future of the team (will Joel Embiid ever be healthy? Are they getting Dario Saric this year or next? Is Okafor capable of developing into a adequate defender to justify giving him heavy minutes/responsibility?) that it seems like a best case scenario for both camps to avoid each other. Simmons can't afford to go from one bad situation to another.
Long shots (again, ranked in terms of fit):
New Orleans (6.3 Percent Chance to Win):
Anthony Davis and Simmons would be an incredible pairing, but the Pelicans roster is pretty abysmal. They'd have a lot of moves to make, but could likely add a couple shooters after the cap-bump to make them competent in the short term. Given his campaign at LSU, I'm also not sure that staying in Louisiana would be Simmons top choice, but the opportunity to pair a potentially transcendent offensive player (Simmons) with a potentially transcendent defensive player (Davis) is the ultimate rarity. There's a chance that NO brass might think Ingram is that player instead of Simmons (people are comparing him to Durant, though that seems silly to me beyond the physical comparison), and that would maybe be the best thing for everyone. There's a higher quotient for bust potential if he does land here (the team is just so bare bones right now and expectations surrounding Davis will be high going forward) than other places, but this would be a pretty good situation overall.
Milwaukee (1.1 Percent Chance to Win):
The Bucks already have their point-forward of the future in Giannis Antetekoumnpo, so Simmons is really kind of redundant for them. They'll be looking for a shooter, so Simmons makes very little sense for them. Fun from a video game stand-point, but not enough shooting to make it work. Jason Kidd isn't going to reconfigure his whole roster to accommodate a prospect who isn't a sure thing, though I'm sure he'd have some tips for Benny on the conversion from non-shooter to shooter. I think they'd trade out, or take Ingram, depending on what's on the table and if they pick 1 or 2.
Denver (1.7 Percent Chance to Win):
This is decidedly not a great situation for Benny. Emmanuel Mudiay and Simmons wouldn't fit well together at all, and Mudiay's performance has been very encouraging thus far in his rookie campaign. The lack of shooters is clearly a big issue. Danillo Gallinari is all but out the door already, and Kenneth Faried has found himself losing favor among executives around the league. Not to worry for Simmons, because they'd more than likely take Ingram.
Sacramento (2.8 Percent Chance to Win):
Sacramento is a downtown Bagdad dumpster fire of an organization, and Simmons should do everything he can to avoid this. They've got maybe the worst owner in the league, and a GM who has zero experience/zero knowledge of the ins and outs of the CBA. Ownership and upper-level management is the most important component in the success of a professional sports franchise, despite what many may thing, and Sacramento fails by that metric.
Just for fun, I Went to RealGM and ran the Lotto Simulator 3 times. Here's what I got.
1st. Lakers, Sixers, Suns
2nd. Suns, Sixers, Kings
3rd. Nuggets, Sixers, Kings.
In those scenarios, I'd see Simmons going 1st all three times (only because it makes more sense for the Nuggets to trade the pick to an asset-rich team like the Celtics.)