The Philadelphia 76ers are prepared to become just the fourth team since 1980 to select No. 1 in back-to-back seasons, joining a group headlined by Houston (Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon), Orlando (Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber) and Cleveland (Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett). All three of those teams went on to appear in an NBA Finals within two years – granted Cleveland traded Wiggins shortly after and Bennett is one of the biggest flops in recent history.
That being said, the Sixers are in a pretty special place right now, especially when considering that their two No. 1’s, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, will be debuting in the same season. As the two are surely going to be competing for Rookie of the Year honors, what would have happened if both guys were in the same draft?
Who’d go first?
We left that debate up to the experts:
Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer
“Ben Simmons is bigger, he oozes potential. I feel like Ben Simmons would more likely go No. 1 if they were in the same draft,” O’Connor said.
As for who he prefers as a player, that decision leans one way.
“It’s a complicated question…they all belong in that same elite tiers of prospects but not quite generational,” he continued. “I would give Fultz the edge and that’s because I’m so down on Ben Simmons’ jump shot.
“Fultz, he does so many things well, and so many of those skills that he does well can eventually be done at a higher lever as he develops as a player. I think Fultz is probably the best prospect, but then again you’re asking someone who had Simmons behind Brandon Ingram last year. I think you’d find a hell of a lot of players who’d have Simmons ahead of Fultz.”
Jeff Goodman, ESPN
We didn’t have to look far as O’Connor suggested to find someone who’d go Simmons first.
“Fultz would have gone No. 2 in last year’s draft behind Simmons,” Goodman said.
That being said, Goodman isn’t knocking Fultz. He just believes Simmons’ potential, his size and his passing ability would have warranted the No. 1 selection over Fultz. He believes the two of them will complement each other.
“Fultz is a terrific player, and will fit in well with Simmons because he can play both on and off the ball,” he said. “Fultz is more of a scorer; Simmons more of a distributor.”
Sixers fans will have a lot to cheer about it sounds like as these two will surely be duking it out for Rookie of the Year honors all while reviving the organization, as a whole.