With Dario Saric, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid (all three ranking in our top six for 2016) joining Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, the 76ers now feature a very young, talented and intriguing frontcourt.
There aren’t many “must-draft” players from this rookie class, but we break down each guy’s potential and mental/physical readiness, so you’ll know which prospects to keep a close eye on for later in the season. This is a pretty deep class, so be on the lookout for honorable mention players too.
#1. Ben Simmons (76ers)
Role on Team: 4.5, Potential: 5.0, Readiness: 4.5, Impact Score: 14.0
Simmons might be the most hyped up #1 overall pick since LeBron James in 2003, and the LeBron comparisons are inevitable due to Ben’s awesome court vision and passing skills. Simmons is even taller than James, at 6’10, 240 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, meaning he can defend both forward positions. While Ben should immediately become Philly’s #1 player, he’s not a proven superstar just yet, so we’ll give him a 4.5 for his role on the team. In college he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds. 4.8 assists, 2.0 steals and .8 blocks while shooting 56% FG, with his only flaws being a poor touch from the free throw line (67% FT) and a lack of threes (just 1-3 over 33 games last year). So stat-wise he has plenty of upside, especially if he ever develops reliable 3-point range.
In summer league Simmons wowed the crowd with his ability to pull down rebounds and go coast to coast in a hurry, then dish a sweet no-look pass to one of his teammates. He averaged 7.7 boards and 5.5 assists in 28.8 mpg in those games, and he’ll have much better finishers to pass to once the real games begin. His own scoring wasn’t as impressive (just 10.8 points on 32% FG), making it especially hard to predict Ben’s rookie FG%. For a smart projection range, we’re suggesting 33-35 minutes, 14-16 points, 8-9 rebounds, 6-7 assists and around 2 steals+blocks on 45-47% FG shooting for Ben’s rookie season.
LeBron scored 20.9 ppg as a rookie, but he also played a whopping 39.5 minutes per game, which Simmons is unlikely to match since Philly has solid frontcourt depth. Ben’s high turnovers, lack of threes and poor FT% are also going to sting, so be aware of these flaws before using a top pick on him. Simmons only turned 20 in July, but he has a mature body and a feel for the game that few players his age/size possess, so he’s ready to make a major impact and is our pick to win Rookie of the Year.
Meet Ben Simmons
DraftExpress Scouting Videos
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#6. Dario Saric (76ers)
Role on Team: 3.5, Potential: 4.0, Readiness: 4.0, Impact Score: 11.5
Saric was the #12 pick in 2014, and he’s finally ready for the NBA. He joins Simmons and Embiid to give the 76ers three of our top six rookies, further proof that Sam Hinkie’s plan worked? Now 22 years old, Saric seems to have a well developed body that’s ready for the rigors of the NBA.
He got to represent his country of Croatia in the Olympics and did an admiral job, posting 11.8 points, 6.7 boards, 3.2 assists (but also 3.0 turnovers) in 33 mpg. Dario made a solid 51% of his twos, but was just 5-19 from 3-point range (26%) and 16-27 from the foul line (59%). But even if Saric is ready and has strong starter potential, it’s going to be hard for Philly to find him big minutes until they make a trade or someone gets hurt. Here are some of Dario’s highlights from last season in Europe.
DraftExpress Scouting Video (2014)