The NBA Draft is now just a few hours away, but we already know that LSU star Ben Simmons is going first overall to Philadelphia thanks to an Instagram post on Tuesday.
So Simmons is a 76er, and he's also the only player in the last 20 years to average over 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists (it was closer to five) in a college basketball season.
Yes, Simmons is that special, yet if you followed his time at LSU and throughout the pre-draft process, you also know he's something else altogether: One of the most overly criticized college athletes in recent memory. In the social-media-driven, nothing-is-ever-good-enough society we live in, most of the commentary on Simmons didn't surround his historic numbers, but instead what he didn't do at LSU.
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It's patently absurd, patently overblown, and in a lot of cases, patently false. It's time to go "Myth Busting on Ben Simmons."
A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on
Myth No. 1: Simmons 'can't shoot'
Reality: It takes lots of players time to develop as a shooter. Including LeBron James.
Of all the myths about Simmons, this is the weirdest one.
Sure, he only shot 33 percent from behind the three-point line as a freshman, but if you were 6'10, bigger, faster and stronger than your opponent, and able to get to the rim any time you wanted, would you worry about working on your jumper? Of course not! You'd use every physical gift you had, and well, go to the rim every chance you got. Which is exactly what Simmons did. Yes, he only shot 33 percent from three as a freshman, but he also shot 56 percent from the field. That was by far the best number of any LSU player who averaged more than 10 minutes per game.
Isn't the oldest clichÃ© in basketball that "a consistent jumper is one of the few things you actually can teach a guy once they get to the NBA?" That you can't teach height, you can't teach size, hand-eye coordination or athleticism. But you can teach an inconsistent shooter to become consistent if the player is willing to put in the work?
Does anyone remember when LeBron James broke into the league? How he couldn't shoot a lick, and how early on, he relied on athletic ability and beating his man off the dribble to create his offense? And didn't he eventually become a more consistent jump shooter?
The answer is "yes" and the numbers back it up. According to Basketball Reference, LeBron shot just 41 percent from the field as a rookie in the NBA, but quickly went up to 47 percent the next year, and 50 percent in seven of his last eight. His three-point field goal percentage began at a paltry 29 percent as a rookie, before eventually peaking at 40 percent a few years ago.
Myth No. 2: His team didn't win enough
Reality: It takes more than one great player to win. It also takes a semi-competent coach
LSU coach Johnny Jones should be blamed as much --- if not more --- for the Tigers' struggles this year. Again, Simmons averaged nearly 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists per game... and did it as a freshman! What else was he supposed to do? Diagram his own plays? Only pass to himself? Kidnap his coach and lock him in the broom closet?
A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on
Actually, that last one isn't a bad idea, but since it could never happen (since it would probably constitute some weird, secondary NCAA violation), here's the simple truth on Johnny Jones' 2015-2016 season: It was the single worst coaching job in modern college basketball history. Jones had a team with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft (Simmons), another projected lottery pick in the preseason (Antonio Blakeney) and a handful of others with NBA talent and didn't even sniff the tournament.
Even a young Mozart couldn't have reached his potential if he had the village idiot teaching him how to play the piano.
By the way, if you want full details on just how awful Jones' track record is, read this article from earlier in the season.
Myth No. 3: Ben Simmons 'quit' on LSU
Reality: Ben Simmons 'quit' on Johnny Jones.
To say he "quit" on the team is not only stupid, it's ill-informed. During the stretch run (when Simmons supposedly "quit" on his team) he tallied seven double-doubles in LSU's last nine games, and scored at least 20 points in five. If he quit, it's the worst quit job ever.
So again, let's not say Simmons "quit," but even if, to some small degree, he didn't "give it his all" the final few games of LSU's season, could you blame him? We've seen it before from other LSU teams.
Remember it was just two years ago that LSU was cruising to an NCAA Tournament berth, before losing three of their last four games (including an embarrassing first round SEC Tournament loss to Auburn... yes Auburn!) and after eventually limping into the Big Dance was eventually knocked out in the first round.
That team didn't have Ben Simmons, but they "quit" on the coach just as much that season as they did in 2016, and it's not like they didn't have talent either. Actually, that team was arguably more talented with a future first round pick (Jarrell Martin) and a second rounder (Jordan Mickey), along with a healthy Keith Hornsby.
Point being, you can't blame Ben Simmons for LSU's struggles, and when it comes to the pre-draft attention surrounding Simmons it's much more myth than reality.
Enjoy the Ben Simmons era, Philly fans. You got a good one.