Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal says he sees similarities between the top overall pick Ben Simmons and three-time NBA Champion LeBron James.
Simmons, who was picked first in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers ahead of LA Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, attended LSU before turning pro.
Four-time NBA Champion, three-time Finals MVP and 2000 MVP Shaq also attended LSU and says his comparison stems from Simmons’ ability to get the best out of the players around him – a trait similarly shared by LeBron.
“He’s a LeBron-type player,” O’Neal said. “What I mean by that, LeBron does a nice job of making everybody else around him better—passing the ball, doing the small things—and Ben is that type of player.”
As a former LSU student, ‘Diesel’ kept a close eye on the progression of the Australian forward, whose reputation has seen him well-known for a number of years. Given that aforementioned growing reputation garnered over the past year, expectations of Simmons rose significantly – leading to what Shaq believes is unnecessary criticism.
“He took a lot of flack, especially at LSU with not really taking over games,” O’Neal added.
“But he’s young. He’ll get to that. When it comes to other aspects of the game, he’s very, very intelligent. He plays the game very well.”
The 20-year-old averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game during his solitary year at LSU, while also shooting 56% from the field and 33% from three-point range.
He now joins a 76ers team which finished last season with a pathetic 10-72 record, but his arrival is expected to trigger a reverse in the trend which has seen the franchise suffer for the past three seasons.