Unless the haters get their way, Ben Simmons is the likely No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
Yes, Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game this season, but because LSU (19-14) did not make the NCAA Tournament, people are labeling him a bust. They’re saying he’s not talented. They’re saying he’s not a leader. They’re saying he’s not a winner.
Jay Bilas can’t believe it.
“Really? We’re going to lay that on him?” the ESPN college basketball analyst said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He bears responsibility – everybody does – but it’s not all his. Nobody gets to the tournament by themselves. So what message are we sending to the next Ben Simmons? Part of it is, ‘I should just go to Kentucky or Duke. Nobody’s going to talk about me being a winner. They’re going to talk about my talent.’ If Ben Simmons were playing for Kentucky right now, we’d be drooling about how good he is and talking about, ‘Oh, the kid’s a winner. Look at his demeanor. He never changes expression.’ When you’re losing and you never change expression, we say you don’t care. When you win and you don’t change expression, (you’re focused).”
While Ben Simmons won’t be a part of March Madness, several other likely lottery picks will be, including Duke’s Brandon Ingram, Kentucky’s Jamal Murray and Providence’s Kris Dunn.
“It’s ridiculous how talented (Ingram) is,” Bilas said. “He reminds you a little of Kevin Durant. He doesn’t score quite like that, but he can score.”
So can Murray. In fact, he has scored 20+ points in 12 of his last 13 games, while Dunn, perhaps the best all-around guard in America, is averaging 16.0 points, 6.4 assists and 5.5 rebounds.
“I think he’s Dwyane Wade,” Bilas said of Dunn. “I love that kid.”
Bilas, who has Kansas beating North Carolina for the national championship, also loves Malcolm Brogdon.
“At Virginia right now, I know the standard for being an unbelievable person was set by Tiki Barber,” said Bilas, who also has Michigan State and Texas A&M in his Final Four. “But Malcolm Brogdon – that guy’s 22 years old and I’m asking him for advice. That dude is the real deal.”