The Houston Rockets enter the upcoming 2016 NBA Draft without a top draft pick by virtue of making the post season. Unfettered the Rockets still hope to nab a star prospect with the potential to effect immediate results. Over the next month SCS will look at the draft prospects with a view to team fit and what moves would need to occur to get that pick.
Draft Prospect: LSU’s Forward Ben Simmons
Come June 23rd, NBA Draft Day, the Houston Rockets will be looking for an extremely talented player that can contribute to the team next season. Last year’s choices weren’t terrible as Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell both saw limited action for Houston, but GM Daryl Morey is looking for a bigger splash than what last year’s draftees were able to bring.
At 6 foot, 9 inches Ben Simmons may very well be the closest thing the NBA has seen to LeBron James. The freshman from Louisiana State University has committed to the league after one year in college. There is no doubt that Simmons is ready to hit the league, but can he manage the hype that comes with being the best player in the draft?
Being from Australia, most people didn’t hear about the superstar until he was finishing his senior year of high school at Montverde Academy in Florida, a top-notch prep school for athletes that want to make it to the next level.
In his one-year at LSU he blossomed into a monster player that could grab rebounds, dribble the ball and even showed that he could be a leader of a team that was barely able to sneak into the tournament due to lack of talent on the roster.
Being the size of most power forwards and centers, Simmons is able to bang around with the big men in the paint and grab rebounds with ease. His size helped him average 11.8 rebounds during his season at LSU; in four separate games this season he was able to snag more than 15 rebounds! By numbers, he was the 6th best rebounder in the nation in the 2015-2016 season.
Rebounding the ball isn’t why Simmons is going to go extremely high in the draft, the kid can take the ball coast to coast whenever he wants and makes scoring look easy inside. At 19.2 points per game this year he was top 50 in the nation in scoring and only in 3 games was he held to 10 points or fewer all season.
He will need to work on his outside jump-shot some more in order to stretch the floor in the league, but expect him to add that to his game as he trains and prepares this summer.
Simmons is also a play-maker and leader when he wants to be. He can take over a ball game with his all around skills, even managed to average 4.8 assists per game.
Awards and HonorsConsensus 1st-Team All American (2016)1st-Team All-SEC (2016)All-SEC Freshmen Team (2016)USBWA Freshman of the Year (2016)Morgan Wooten Award (2015)McDonald’s All-American (2015)Gatorade National HS Player of the Year (2015)
Just to be clear, the Rockets are expected to have a draft pick in the late-30’s to early-40’s and the odds of landing Simmons in the draft is highly unlikely, however we have seen crazier things happen. Starting small forward and defensive cornerstone for the Rockets, Trevor Ariza, is under contract throughout the 2017-2018 season, but will he be wearing a Rockets jersey next season?
Houston loves Ariza and it would be tough to see him go, but he will be 31 years old by the time next season starts. Morey could look to go young and try to see if he could work a trade for a top-5 pick, unfortunately it would take much more than just Ariza.
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With that being said, Simmons is 6’9 and could run alongside Ariza as the Rockets could play a smaller lineup. A smaller lineup would knock 7-foot Donatas Motiejunas out of the equation and more than likely puts him on the trading block next to Terrence Jones.
To move up and make a big move into the top couple picks for Simmons, the Rockets would have to be certain he would gel and fit in perfect with the rest of the roster. All-Star shooting guard James Harden was accused of being a bit too laid back this season and it’s hard to disagree. This move would put Simmons in the starting lineup and not that it couldn’t work with the Beard, but Simmons isn’t the guy who is going to yell and get the team fired up, that’s who the Rockets need!
Mar 12, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; LSU Tigers forward Ben Simmons (25) looks on from the court in the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies during the SEC conference tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
In this year’s draft there are two players considered “no-brainers” that everyone assumes will go one-two in the draft, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Simmons. If some miraculous move were to happen and the Rockets got their choice at one of the two young stars they would have to go with Simmons. His length, his maturity and his upside are undeniable and barring injury Ben Simmons will be a great player in the NBA for a long time.
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