While speaking with the media, O'Neal was asked by CSN Philly about the 2016 rookie class and if any players stood out as future stars.
"He's a LeBron-type player," O'Neal said Simmons, a 20-year-old forward. "What I mean by that, LeBron does a nice job of making everybody else around him better -- passing the ball, doing the small things -- and Ben is that type of player."
Despite impressive averages of 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game -- numbers not too far off of O'Neal's collegiate production of 21.6 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists over three seasons at LSU -- Simmons was criticized because LSU failed to meet preseason expectations and missed the NCAA tournament.
O'Neal said he views Simmons' freshman season differently, though.
"He took a lot of flack (sic), especially at LSU with not really taking over games," O'Neal said. "But he's young. He'll get to that.
"When it comes to other aspects of the game, he's very, very intelligent. He plays the game very well."
Shaquille O'Neal was a great player (the most dominant center since Wilt Chamberlain), but this statement is very strong.
I know that he said that he is just a 'LeBron-type player' and he will probably have 6+ rebounds and assists per game, but LeBron James played in the NBA Finals in his fourth NBA season when he lost 4-0 against San Antonio Spurs.
In his rookie season, LeBron James had 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. This is a big challenge for Ben Simmons. Is he a capable to have a similar season like LeBron James?