The Philadelphia 76ers emerged from the excitement of lottery night with 2016's top draft pick at their disposal. The team's choice on draft night, could very well impact how Ben Simmons' potential sneaker deal pans out.
Simmons, along with Duke's Brandon Ingram, are two of the likeliest prospects Philadelphia evaluates, with one of them being the final choice as the #1 draft pick on 23 June.
The Brown connection
It's no secret the Sixers' head coach, Brett Brown is not only a fellow Australian and ex-Boomers head coach, but also holds deep ties with Ben Simmons' father, Dave. "I coached Ben's father a long time ago," Brown recounted his earlier days in the NBL with Dave Simmons --who once played in the Melbourne Tigers, Newcastle Falcons and Canberra Cannons-- with ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk in an earlier interview today. "I've known Ben since he was born. I've known his family since the late '80s."
"[Ben Simmons] is an extremely talented man, and I think he comes from great stock with his family."
Addressing team need
Regardless of how "The Process" --Philadelphia's recipe for success through short-term mediocrity-- has failed to produce a competitive roster in recent seasons, picking the right draftee is key to a turnaround next season. The Sixers need a capable shooter who can work alongside their trio of big men, ranging from Jahlil Okafor to Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid.
18 year old, 6 ft 9 Brandon Ingram --whose impeccable footwork and quick shot release has enabled him to shoot 41% on 5.4 attempts from the NCAA three-point line last season-- makes more sense here in contrast to Ben Simmons.
Despite possessing an impressive NBA-ready physique, along with superb rebounding and playmaking, Simmons still has a potential Achilles' heel - or two. He has shown a general reluctance to shoot from long range, casting doubt in a modern NBA era where shooting is a prized asset. Jonathan Givony, a respected voice on the NBA draft scene has also made remarks on Simmons' apparent lack of competitiveness.
What if the 76ers decide that the Brown-Simmons coaching connection is worth all the perceived imperfections, and outranks a pressing team need?
The market impact
Simmons, who is supposedly deep in negotiations with Nike and adidas for a looming sneaker endorsement contract, might just hit a rock wall. In comparison to anything Philadelphia could bring on exposure, Hollywood as a market reigns supreme. Being the major part of a Los Angeles Lakers franchise --right in the wake of a massive fan base suffering from Kobe Bryant's departure-- would certainly cast more attention on the talented forward and encourage Nike to offer a bigger deal, and keep Simmons in Nikes.
Going from a basketball aspect, Simmons' presence on the Lakers makes sense too. His quickness and playmaking abilities would give the Lakers a capable playmaking big outside of the guards, a role similar to how Draymond Green works as a secondary playmaker on the Golden State Warriors.
The analogy between Simmons and Green is made with an understanding that the Lakers' new head coach, Luke Walton --who spent his past three years with Golden State, both as an assistant and interim head coach-- will doubtlessly transit snippets of the Warriors' offensive structure and tailor them to the Lakers.
“That’s how you play the game,” Simmons had this to say about his passing abilities, in a recent March interview with SLAM. “It’s not about one-on-one. If you’re doing that, you go to the backyard. If you’re on a team, that’s what a team is. You play together and try to win the game. If everyone is on the same page, it’s a special thing.”
Simmons would fit right in.
In saying that, the Sixers' draft day decision might have less impact than we think.
Olgun Uluc of Fox Sports has mentioned that Simmons' prospective team might not be a crucial factor in the shoe deal, with sources saying there is "no issue with the market in the likes of Boston and Philadelphia".
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; it is much the same with value. Simmons' perceived value (and contract size) lies in the hands of the big shoe companies, especially Nike. It is up to them to decide if Simmons' potential arrival in Philadelphia would impact his appeal, and affect the bottom line. In that scenario, it might make sense for Simmons and his representation to lock a deal in before draft night rolls around.