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Pre-Draft Scouting Report: Ben Simmons

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"With the First Pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Ben Simmons, Forward, Louisiana State University."

So here we are, the draft just two days away, and not much has changed since the end of the tournament. Benny is more than likely going to be the top overall pick in the draft (this has now been all but confirmed via Simmons himself on Instagram, he eventually deleted a post with the above photo captioned "trust the process.") The Aussie is a singular talent, not quite like any player who has ever come before him. That being said, his talents and potential almost perfectly match with the direction the league is trending in. He'll be a force in the open court right out the gate, and could become one of the leagues' next great grab-and-go guys. It will take a little longer for the half-court scoring game to come around, but he'll be droppin' dimes like lil' Kevin even if he goes periods struggling to put the ball in the hoop.  With coaching, he should be able to defend 2.5 to 3 positions down the road, though even in a best case-scenario that will come with at least a couple seasons of experience, giving where he's starting from. The reports from his off-season workouts is that he shooting the ball much better from a technical perspective and from a comfort perspective, though I tend to put little weight into off-season reports such as these until I see it happen on the court. He will be tested. For the first time in a long time, he'll be playing with and against talent equal to his own. It seems like his game is ready, and maybe even better suited for, that next step up.

Simmons will greatly benefit from the spacing, increased speed, and superior coaching he'll encounter in the NBA. He was one of the few college guys who I've watched play who made me think he was going "too fast" (not literally) for the guys around him. He will be set free in the pros to play in the manner that suits him best. He'll also likely provide a steady stream of highlight plays during his rookie year, like he did at LSU, but in the process I expect he'll play some generally quality ball. Don't be surprised when he ends up averaging 7 or 8 assists next year, especially if he ends up assuming the role of full-time primary ball-handler. He's that talented of a distributor, and Philly's roster isn't quite as bad as everybody thinks it is.

The Sixers will find a way to manipulate their core to fit Simmons better than it does in its current state, and that starts with figuring out what to do with the log-jam at center. Jahlil Okafor, or Nerlens Noel, or both, could be on the way out even before Simmons officially becomes a 76er on Thursday night, so we don't really know what the team may look like day 1 of the regular season. Regardless, word is that coach Brett Brown (who also coaches the Australian national team) has plans to use Simmons as a true point-guard/forward, similar to the way that the Milwaukee Bucks used Giannis Antetokounmpo for much of last season. In my opinion, this is a great move, and definitely goes to both maximizing his value in the short term (as you let him develop and get a feel for the league), and the long-term (as that versatility allows you to do way more with your roster than a traditional PG.) He'll get plenty of reps doing different things on the court, which is good, but they'll lose plenty of games this next season, and he's going to have to chart a path for his development independent of team success, something he struggled to do this year in Baton Rouge. Still, if Joel Embiid ends up healthy, which is one of the biggest question marks in the NBA, and they mesh by any measurement or stretch of the imagination, fans in Philly are likely to be very, very, excited about the future of the franchise in 2017 and beyond, regardless of their W/L record these next few seasons.