Ben Simmons: Celtics Fans Might Want to Get Familiar


It’s true, the NBA season is still in its first month. Most teams are trying to figure stuff out, establish their identities, and build chemistry for the long haul. But one thing seems pretty clear. The Brooklyn Nets are bad, really bad, 2-9 at this point with no reason to anticipate they’ll improve. Only the 1-10 Pelicans and the winless Sixers have a worse record, and both teams have a much higher ceiling in the coming months than the Nets do.

It seems inevitable that Brooklyn will be in the running for the top spot in the 2016 draft, which should make Celtics fans extremely excited. Boston owns the Nets’ upcoming first round pick, no matter how high it is, as part of the deal that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn a few years back.

In all likelihood the 2016 NBA Draft will include Ben Simmons, the 6’10” Louisiana State University freshman who has already drawn comparisons to Tracy McGrady and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen. In his first two games with LSU, Simmons has tallied 33 points, 22 rebounds, 11 assists, 4 steals, and 4 blocks, while shooting 15/24 from the field. He’s a versatile stat stuffer, the kind of do-it-all player who could potentially change a franchise’s fortunes in a hurry.

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The Celtics are already headed in the right direction. Most recently, they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets on back to back nights to get to 6-4. Both wins came on the road, and by a margin of 15+ points each, fantastic results for a team that went 12-18 against the Western Conference a season ago. Adding a knockout prospect like Simmons could make a trip back to the Finals in the near future that much more realistic.

Let’s go ahead fantasize about the most enticing scenario. The Brooklyn Nets do indeed secure the NBA’s worst record and the ping pong balls bounce just right. Ben Simmons enters the draft after one phenomenal season at LSU and the Celtics take him with the number one overall pick. All those minutes begin to catch up with LeBron James, his health becomes an issue, and the Cleveland Cavaliers tumble from the top of the Eastern Conference. Simmons quickly leads Boston to fill that vacancy and the Celtics compete for titles for the next decade or so.

Okay, maybe that’s going too far. At this point Simmons isn’t even a lock to be taken with the first pick. Some mock drafts have Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere in that position. And we’re only about a dozen games into the NBA season. The Nets have a lot more losing to do to give the Celtics what at most will be a 25 percent chance at the the top draft spot. But it’s tempting to consider a rapid return to greatness, Simmons suiting up in green and becoming Boston’s next superstar.

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The Celtics have a chance to do some good things this season. They have a bunch of solid young players already in place and a first-rate coach in Brad Stevens. Their long-term fate, however, may depend on just how futile the Brooklyn Nets can be. So root for Anthony Davis and the Pelicans to get their act together, root for the Sixers to finally right the ship, and keep an eye on Simmons and his collegiate escapades. With a bunch of Brooklyn losses and a little luck, the show could be coming to Boston next.