Not long ago, it looked like Ben Simmons to the Sixers was a sure thing.
The presumptive No. 1 overall pick had Australian connections to head coach Brett Brown, the LSU star looked to be comfortable with the idea of playing in Philadelphia, and basketball analysts singled out Simmons as the best player in the draft.
Duke’s Brandon Ingram, expected to be the other top-2 pick in the draft in two weeks, arrived to Philly Sunday night and reportedly had dinner in Rittenhouse Square with a bunch of Sixers luminaries — including Joel Embiid and Brett Brown.
He then had a workout for the Sixers and media members at their practice facility Monday, viewed by Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington and others.
Ingram, according to NJ.com’s Elliot Shorr-Parks,said the thing that separates him from other top prospects is his “mental toughness.” Is this a shot at Simmons?
Reports seem to be swirling (and were confirmed by Bryan ColangeloMonday) that Simmons refuses to work out for the Sixers. There is no Philadelphia visit on the books and no plans for one, despite the 76ers’ interest in meeting with him.
This seems to go against the consensus that Simmons — who at first revealed he wanted to play for the Lakers, holder of the No. 2 pick — had no reservations about coming to Philadelphia. Maybe he does.
The tide could be turning away from the 6-foot-10, gifted ball-handled and scorer to Ingram, who is a talented shooter whom Brown described Monday as being”silky smooth, fluid.”
According to ESPN analytics, Ingram projects to be the best player out of the 2016 NBA draft.
“Despite the consensus among scouts, these projections question whether Simmons is truly the best player in the class,”Sharon Katz and Paul Sabinwrote.”Ingram has the highest draft grade, based on total projected SPM, and he is most likely to play at the level of an All-Star or starter during his first five seasons.”
The Sixers, as is expected, continue to keep things close to the chest, and Colangelo has spoken publicly multiple times about the merits of taking Simmons.
Ingram has a workout with the Lakers scheduled for Thursday. Simmons has no workouts scheduled with anyone.