As the end of the season stretch begins, teams are fighting for wins here, aiming high for a shot at an NBA title. However, a few teams have a different objective; tanking. As the season comes to a close, two teams you will see in the lottery (again) are the 76ers and the Lakers. Both teams are of course upset with this, as it seems they have started a trend of tanking, as this is going to be the 4th year in a row both teams have a chance for a top 10 pick in the draft. What is especially disappointing however, is the performance of the 1st and 2nd picks of last year's draft.
As both Simmons and Ingram entered the league with high expectations, both have disappointed in their own ways. Simmons, unfortunately broke his right foot before the season even started, and had to undergo surgery. Although there were rumors of his return, Bryan Colangelo, the GM of the 76ers, put them to rest; confirming he would miss the rest of the NBA season. As for Ingram, he was expected to scorch the league with his length and athleticism, and let's not forget the beautiful stroke he had in Duke, but, unfortunately for the Los Angeles fans, he's only averaging 8 ppg on .362% shooting. However, this article of course, wasn't written to tell you about what these young bucks have done wrong, but instead, to show you who is better.
The Future Star: Ben Simmons?
Now of course, Simmons has not played all year, so is it really fair to start comparing? The answer to that is of course not, but we are going to do it anyways. Let's start by looking at the college stats of these two players. Simmons, who was an absolute monster at LSU, averaged 19.2 ppg, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in the span of 33 games. When you look at those stats, it is easy to be impressed, but what I find more impressive, is how he ranked on the leader boards in the SEC division. He ranked 1st in player efficiency (29.0), 1st in total rebounds per game (11.8), 4th in ppg (19.2), and 5th in assists per game (4.8). These are the stats of a player who understands the game, and is able to exploit those who don't. And let's not forget, only one of his teammates even made it into the NBA, and many argued it was due to Simmons' expert ability as a teammate.
All these stats are great, elite in fact, however the one problem with it is his failed attempt of making it into College Basketball's most exciting month; March Madness, as LSU had arguably the best college player that year, Simmons was unable to carry his team into the brackets for a shot at a title. This was disappointing, as many fans were hoping to see how he would perform in the hype, however it was not to be seen. This also caused some criticism towards Simmons, as he had been compared to LeBron, yet he was unable to carry his team into the brackets? To be elite, it is expected that you should be able to win no matter who you have, and because Simmons couldn't do that, some speculate that in the NBA he won't be able to be that star that the 76ers have been longing for since the Iverson era.
Fans Must Be Patient: Brandon Ingram
As for Ingram, he has a disadvantage here, as we have seen how he plays in the pros, and even though his college season was impressive (17.3 ppg, 6.8 rebounds per game, 2.0 assists per game, .442 FG%), his NBA season hasn't been even close to that level, as he has only averaged 8.0 ppg on .362 % shooting, 4.1 rebounds per game, and 2.0 assists per game (At least he kept that leveled!). Now sure, it is fair to say the NBA is much harder than college ball, and yes, he isn't on a great team like he was at Duke, however; he was supposed to be the next Kevin Durant! The new KD doesn't even come close to the old KD's rookie season; as he was able to average 20.3 ppg on .430 % shooting (!!!), 4.4 rebounds per game, and 2.4 assists per game. The rebounds and assists are very similar, but the point differential is huge! Fortunately, Ingram scored a career-high 22 points, which is a step in the right direction for him, but to be averaging less than half of what KD averaged his rookie season; it's downright concerning.
Was the hype for him too high coming into the league? Was his team at Duke what made him look great? All of these are possibilities, the one fact is, what he was at Duke isn't what he is now. I will cut Ingram some slack though, Duke had a great team, especially compared to the Kobe-less Lakers, And expecting 20 points per game as a rookie is delusional, even if you are compared to someone who did. Ingram's real test will to see how he will progress under Magic Johnson and if he can become the Laker's star everyone in LA is planning on.
Ok, but who is better?
Now you may have read this whole article and came up with your decision on whose better, and perhaps wondering who I think is better. The answer to your question is: you have to wait. We tend to forget how young these kids are, and how long they have to prove themselves to their teams. And although both have their downsides, they didn't go #1 and #2 in the draft for nothing, and as we wait for Simmons' return and Ingram's development under Magic Johnson, all we can do is speculate as we wait for this long lasting competition between the 2 to begin.