- Mic Smith/AP
With the NBA Draft one week away, teams at the top of the lottery haven’t gotten a great look at the presumed No. 1 pick.
That’s because LSU forward, 19-year-old Ben Simmons hasn’t worked out for any teams since finishing his freshman year in college and declaring for the draft.
According to a report from Keith Pompey of Philly.com, Simmons refused to work out for the Philadelphia 76ers this week, owners of the No. 1 pick in the draft. While prospects will turn down workouts from teams they don’t want to join, Simmons also hasn’t worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers, who own the second pick, or any other team.
In what’s considered a weak draft class, there’s little reason for Simmons to work out for any team. Simmons impressed in his freshman season, posting gaudy averages of 19 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists per game. Though he faces some competition to be the first pick, mainly from Duke’s Brandon Ingram, it’s more beneficial for Simmons to remain somewhat of a mystery to teams.
Teams work out prospects to analyze them as thoroughly as possible, both in drills and interviews. If Simmons were to grant the 76ers a workout, they could become wary of his questionable jump shot or any possible personality flaws. If there are serious worries about aspects of Simmons’ game or personality, it could make its way through NBA circles and cause him to drop several spots. There would be more tangible reasons to pass on drafting him.
But if teams can only go off his impressive college career, in a shallow draft class, his chances of dropping are more slim. If the 76ers feel uncomfortable drafting him because they didn’t see him work out, it’s unlikely he’ll go past the second or third pick because the potential he showed in college is too great.
Simmons is effectively protecting himself here. Higher draft picks don’t just come with more prestige, they earn a higher salary, too. If teams want to see Simmons work out, they can make the trip to Cleveland, Ohio, where he’s currently working out with his agency, Klutch Sports Group, as Pompey suggests the Sixers might do. If not, there’s little reason for NBA teams get cold feet about drafting someone who looked like the best player in college basketball last season.