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The case for Ben Simmons over Brandon Ingram being an easier call than advertised

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Simmons vs Ingram is considered a dead heat. The Lakers are co-winners cause they get to just sit back and grab whoever’s left.

Or is it? I enjoyed this Libertyballers post “Just Fucking Take Simmons”. I see evidence for Simmons as the guy also.

For me it’s all about production. Here is their per 40 stats:

Simmons: 22.2 pts, .60 TS%, 13.5 reb, 5.5 ast, 2.3 stl, 0.9 blk, 3.6 TOV, 27.2 PER

Ingram: 20.0 pts, .55 TS%, 7.8 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.3 stl, 1.6 blk, 2.3 TOV, 21.1 PER

Simmons is 1st in the SEC in PER, 3rd in reb/40, 5th in stl/40, 10th in ast/40. Ingram is 20th in the ACC PER, his best stats are 13th in pts/40 and 16th in blks/40, not coming near Simmons rebounding, steals or assists dominance compared to PFs. He had a quality season but in the same way Harrison Barnes and Bradley Beal did in college.

When you consider how great his Ast/40 is for a PF, it’s fair to call Simmons a sure thing to pass at a standout level for his position. When you consider his elite Reb/40 and his size and athleticism, that’s likely in the bag. When you consider his athleticism, strength and ranking 1st in the SEC in FTA/40, attacking the basket is a likely near guaranteed skill too.

Without the same top 10 statistical performances, Ingram doesn’t have this. His closest guaranteed skill may be taking shots. He’s in 8th in the ACC in FGA/40 in addition to the 13th in Pts/40. He has the tools for this with the length to shoot over anyone.

But the days of valuing 20 point a game scorers who create their own midrange are dwindling. The priority is now shots at the rim, 3s, passing and defense.

The pro-Ingram take is normally his 3s and defense make him that modern player. He is ranked 9th in the ACC for 3pt shooters attempting more than 1 per game (41%), 23rd in 3PA/40 (6.3) and 62nd in FT (68.2%). In those stats Durant rated 19th, 14th and 8th respectively his draft year.

I value volume and FT% to project shooters because the NCAA season is a small sample size. Take the difference between Ingram’s 41% and Malachi Richardson’s 35% who is not considered in his class as a shooter. Richardson shoots a higher volume (7.0 3PA/40) and FT% (72.0%). Ingram went 80 for 195 from 3, Richardson went 79 for 224. The swing between their 3P% comes down to about 11 or 12 made 3s. If Ingram went 75 for 195 and Richardson went 86 for 224 their 3P% is both 38.4%. Not only could the difference between their 35% and 41% be liable to variance, but context. What if one player had to force end of shot clock prayers more often? Or one player especially benefitted from teammates getting him open shots? Using FT% both adds more information and is free of contextual effect of teammates/situation. I still value Ingram’s 3P% but my compromise is to call him a 6 or 7 out of 10 talent in the skill. Good but not a guaranteed lights out guy. More Barnes than Durant.

As for his defense. Ingram has an elite wingspan. But I see defense as a combination of length, frame, athleticism, positional IQ, motor, toughness. Ingram’s case outside of his length isn’t as strong. Here is Draftexpress  on him:

“Defensively is where Ingram surprised many this year with his underrated combination of toughness and competiveness. While his fundamentals need work, his size, length and reach gives him great versatility when paired with his willingness to get stops. He showed the ability to switch out onto guards effectively at times out of pick and rolls from the power forward position, sagging off and staying in front, while still getting a hand up to contest thanks to his 7’3 wingspan.

With that said, Ingram still has a ways to go to become a more consistent defender, something that clearly didn’t become a priority for him until arriving in college. He can get a little sleepy at times and lose his focus, closing out lackadaisically, standing around off the ball and looking hunched over in his stance guarding the perimeter. Duke had one of the smallest rotations in high major college basketball and couldn’t afford for Ingram to get in foul trouble, which didn’t always lead to him operating with the highest intensity at all times. Once again, getting stronger will help, as he tends to get caught up on screens quite a bit on the perimeter and can get pushed around inside the paint.

Upside and Motor wrote this:

His defensive potential is really confusing. There are times when Ingram looks like an elite defender, something that he is capable of being due to his length. There are other times, however, where he is undisciplined and confused. He too often leaves his feet to contest jump shots and chase blocks. Here, he unnecessarily helps down, probably chasing a come-from-behind block, and leaves his man wide open.”

“Ingram’s length can help him make up for it at times, but for the most part the motor and consistency isn’t there. He doesn’t have the type of elite athleticism to help him get away with this all the time. He’s not particularly fast on his feet and he doesn’t get in his stance often enough. For a player with exceptionally long legs, standing straight up can be the kiss of death. He switches out on to a guard here but gets off balance and can’t recover on the step back jumper when he stands up.”

There are times where Ingram looks like a monster on that end, especially when he is locked in. This makes it even more frustrating when he gets scored on because he isn’t sitting in a stance or he is biting on a shot fake. If he wants to improve on that end, he needs to stay dialed in every possession.”

Both recognize his potential but do not rave about his current ability. While he could translate his length into great D he could also end up bullied due to his body, caught upright and flat footed and just not smart or tough enough.

Ingram’s 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per 40 is solid but unspectacular and also reflective of a non-elite defender in college.

He has promise on that end but this is not a guaranteed skill. And that’s where I see the difference between him and Simmons. Simmons has not only tools but the elite track record in NCAA in areas like attacking the rim, passing, rebounding, stealing. Outside of possibly taking creating his own FGA, Ingram does not have both this track record of excellence in addition to the tools, when considering his 3pt is less a closed case than it looks. Sure, if everything goes perfectly, Ingram has a non-zero chance of being Durant. But max upside is not something he has to hold over Simmons, who it’s not inconceivable could be Lebron or Magic. May as well just take Simmons.

Written by jr.

May 19, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Ben Simmons vs Brandon Ingram by the numbers

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ingramAfter LSU’s poorer than poor end to the season, Draftexpress.com replaced Ben Simmons with Ben Ingram at #1. Soon after Jonathan Givony wrote “Why Ben Simmons isn’t the top prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft”

Whether NBA teams end up following suit or not, this looks to be a tight debate for #1. Here’s a statistical look at it:

Per 40 minutes:

Brandon Ingram

19.7 pts, .55 TS%, 8.0 reb, 2.2 ast, 1.3 stl, 1.6 blk, 2.4 TOV

Ben Simmons

22.0 pts, .60 TS%, 13.7 reb, 5.5 ast, 2.3 stl, 0.9 blk, 3.6 TOV

Since Ingram is expected to play SF and Simmons PF, their numbers need some context. Here are 7 former freshman or sophomores to compare them to in per 40 minute rates:

SF

Carmelo Anthony (freshman) 24.4 pts, .54 TS%, 11.0 reb, 2.4 ast, 1.7 stl, 0.9 blk, 2.4 TOV
Kevin Durant (freshman) 28.8 pts, .59 TS%, 12.4 reb, 1.5 ast, 2.1 stl, 2.1 blk, 3.2 TOV
Luol Deng (freshman) 19.4 pts, .55 TS%, 8.9 reb, 2.4 ast, 1.7 stl, 1.4 blk, 2.9 TOV
Kawhi Leonard (sophomore) 18.5 pts, .50 TS%, 12.8 reb, 3.2 ast, 1.8 stl, 0.7 blk, 2.7 TOV
Paul George (sophomore) 19.9 pts, .58 TS%, 8.6 reb, 3.7 ast, 2.6 stl, 1.0 blk, 3.6 TOV
Andre Iguodala (sophomore) 16.1 pts, .54 TS%, 10.5 reb, 6.1 ast, 2.0 stl, 0.5 blk, 3.5 TOV
Gordon Hayward (sophomore) 18.4 pts, .62 TS%, 10.1 reb, 2.2 ast, 1.4 stl, 1.0 blk, 2.8 TOV

PF

Chris Bosh (freshman) 20.3 pts, .63 TS%, 11.6 reb, 1.6 ast, 1.3 stl, 2.8 blk, 3.0 TOV
Kevin Love (freshman) 23.6 pts, .65 TS%, 14.4 reb, 2.6 ast, 0.9 stl, 1.9 blk, 2.7 TOV
Anthony Davis (freshman) 17.7 pts, .66 TS%, 13.0 reb, 1.6 ast, 1.7 stl, 5.8 blk, 1.3 TOV
Derrick Favors (freshman) 18.0 pts, .63 TS%, 12.4 reb, 1.3 ast, 1.3 stl, 3.0 blk, 3.3 TOV
Carlos Boozer (freshman) 25.7 pts, .70 TS%, 12.2 reb, 1.2 ast, 1.2 stl, 0.8 blk, 2.6 TOV
Blake Griffin (sophomore) 27.3 pts, .65 TS%, 17.3 reb, 2.7 ast, 1.3 stl, 1.4 blk, 3.2 TOV
Lamarcus Aldridge (sophomore) 17.8 pts, .59 TS%, 10.9 reb, 0.6 ast, 1.6 stl, 2.3 blk, 2.5 TOV

From these lists a median statline can be built:

SF: 19.4 pts, .55 TS%, 10.5 reb, 2.4 ast, 1.8 stl, 1.0 blk, 2.9 TOV

PF: 20.3 pts, .65 TS%, 12.4 reb, 1.6 ast, 1.3 stl, 2.3 blk, 2.7 TOV

Now using this to break down how Simmons and Ingram performed

Steals

Ingram:
1.3 stl/40, SF median: 1.8 stl/40 (Ingram averages 72% of median)

Simmons:
2.3 stl/40, PF median: 1.3 stl/40 (177%)

Blocks

Ingram:
1.6 blk/40, SF median: 1.0 blk/40 (160%)

Simmons:
0.9 blk/40, PF median: 2.3 blk/40 (39%)

Steals and blocks are often cited as key in draft analytics. Each can claim strength in one. Simmons steal rate would rate 1st on the list of compared to PFs. Ingram’s block rate would be 2nd for SFs behind Durant. Simmons block rate is 2nd lowest, only ahead of Boozer. Ingram’s steal rate would be lowest on the SF list.

Rebounding

Ingram:
8.0 reb/40, SF median: 10.5 reb/40 (76%)

Simmons:
13.7 reb/40, PF median: 12.4 reb/40 (110%)

Assists

Ingram:
2.2 ast/40, SF median: 2.4 ast/40 (92%)

Simmons:
5.5 ast/40, PF median: 1.6 ast/40 (344%)

These two are a win for Simmons. His rebounding rates 3rd behind Griffin and Love. Ingram’s rates last among the SFs. Simmons assist rate is the most dominant stat compared to his position of any player in this draft. He is near 3 and a half times the median and over 2x the next nearest peer, in Boozer’s 2.7. Ingram and Hayward tie for 2nd last ahead of Durant.

Turnovers

Ingram:
2.4 TOV/40, SF median: 2.9 TOV/40 (83%)

Simmons:
3.6 TOV/40, PF median: 2.7 TOV/40 (133%)

Ingram’s turnover rate ties for the lowest among SFs with Anthony. Simmons would have the highest rate among the PFs. As a comparison, the median TOV per 40 for Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Mike Conley, Jr. is 3.2. Therefore even when compared to pass-first peers, Simmons turnovers are still high.

Scoring (Pts and TS%)

Ingram:
19.7 pts/40, SF median: 19.4 pts/40 (102%)
.55 TS%, SF median: .55 TS% (100%)

Simmons:
22.0 pts/40, PF median: 20.3 pts/40 (108%)
.60 TS%, PF median: .65 TS% (92%)

Scoring is the most conflicting category to rate. From my research scoring is where the age and conference effects show up the most. Ingram is more than a year younger than Simmons and played a harder schedule. Duke ranks 10th in SOS to LSU’s 79th and played 21 games against top 100 opponents to LSU’s 15. As important is the talent on their own teams. As a non-tournament team, there is less competition on Simmons team to take shots. All of this context points towards Simmons scoring at a higher volume than Ingram this year, which is what he did.

Simmons has the 4th highest points rate behind Griffin, Love and Boozer, however his freshman rate is above Griffin’s. His TS% only rates above Aldridge on the PFs, however Aldridge had a drop in TS% from his freshman to sophomore year’s, his freshman rate was more efficient than Simmons.

Ingram’s pts rates 4th below Durant, Anthony and George, his TS% rates 4th behind Durant, Hayward and George. However George and Hayward were sophomores without strong conference competition. Overall, it’s fair to suggest his combination of volume and TS% for his age and conference is the 3rd best on this list behind Durant and Anthony.

As a whole, when taking into account conference, age, and efficiency I lean towards Ingram’s scoring season as more impressive than Simmons, though not by a significant amount.

Overall

Category by category, it’s a relatively split decision. Simmons is stronger in steals, rebounds and has the dominant stat in assists. Ingram has better blocks, has low turnovers and is arguably the more impressive scorer.

However the question isn’t always what stats they put up, but how. Consider Simmons’ weakness in the blocks stat. The median block rate jumps from 1.0 to 2.3 from SF to PF. Simmons plays as much like a SF as PF. If compared to SF, Simmons’ 0.9 blks per 40 would look a lot more normal. While the steal rate is higher at SF than PF, Simmons 2.3 would still rate above the median of 1.8 at that position.

Simmons’ second weak category is turnovers. However a good case can be made this was the cost for his unique facilitating and high assist role. Simmons had a Ast/Tov of 1.51 compared to the PF list’s average of 0.59. Ingram had a Ast/Tov of 0.91 compared to the SF’s average of 0.83. Ingram being used in much less of a facilitator role led to less turnovers, but also less assists.

Ingram’s weaknesses are harder to explain. The low assist rate can be explained by his less ball dominant role. However the real glaring numbers are ranking last among the list of SFs Anthony, Durant, Leonard, George, Deng, Iguodala, Hayward in both steals and rebounding, despite having the length of a center in a small forward’s body. Duke is an average rebounding team, so competition among his teammates for boards can’t be used as a great excuse in this case. In worst case scenario, there’s a chance his rebounding and steals hides in it a future problem in one of effort level, toughness or awareness going forward.

As a whole, both players do some things very well statistically. Ingram has an excellent combination of shotblocking, low turnover rate and scoring for his age, to Simmons steals, assists, rebounding. If a team is as concerned with Simmons personality as Jonathan Givony is, there is enough in the numbers to believe in Ingram.

Written by jr.

March 16, 2016 at 4:29 pm