Dig Baton Rouge

Failin’ for the Australian

By Casey Gisclair

There are two sure fire ways to be a dominant, title-contending team in the NBA.

The first is the easiest, but is only afforded to a few blessed and chosen franchises. That would be the “Hollywood Method,” which is to rely on a big-market city and warm, sunny weather to attract top-tier free agents.

It’s how the Miami Heat acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh and the Los Angeles Lakers got Shaquille O’Neal in the late 1990s. The Hollywood Method is built on this premise that the grass is always greener on the other side and that stars can go to bigger media markets and win, while also living in paradise.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s a tool that big-market general managers use every, single summer in the free agency season – both now and into the future.

The second method is often times unpopular, but is simple nonetheless. It involves being the best team in the league at losing aka tanking.

That’s not a type-O. Yes, I am telling teams that losing often is valuable. Every smart NBA fan can readily admit that there is a lot of value in being the best team at losing games.

By following this formula, franchises collect high-end draft picks, which give the franchises a higher percentage of drafting tomorrow’s superstars.

The tanking method works. The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted LeBron James with it, and the Oklahoma City Thunder used ineptitude to get Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Clippers got Blake Griffin by being bad, and in 1997, the San Antonio Spurs used an injury to perennial all-star David Robinson to tank and land future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan.

Every smart NBA fan can readily admit that there is a lot of value in being the best team at losing games.

If I were running a small market NBA team without strong prospects at winning the title in 2015-16, I’d be following suit and trading a lot of my veteran talent to pave the way for my team to have a 60-loss season.

Why? Because I want LSU freshman superstar Ben Simmons, that’s why.

Simmons alone will make his future NBA franchise a relevant, playoff-bound threat.

I’ve never seen a player like Simmons at the college level, and I’ve been watching the sport religiously for 20 years. Simmons has seemingly mastered all facets of the game – all while being capable of playing five positions.

Offensively, Simmons is a monster – a nightmare matchup for any team in the country. He handles the basketball like a point guard, passes it like he’s Steve Nash and has the speed to keep up with anyone on the floor.

And because he’s just a few inches shy of 7-feet tall, Simmons can also penetrate, play two feet above the rim and absolutely crush opponents – both on post-ups and with offensive rebounds.

There’s no way to guard the Australia native, and that won’t change at the next level. If an opponent bodies him up with a player his size, Simmons’ quickness will allow him to drive to the hoop with ease. If an opponent opts to go small, Simmons will put his back to the basket and own the block.

There is no way to stop him, and it’ll be even worse once he matures and develops more of a long-range jump shooting game.

More important than the size, athleticism and skills are Simmons’ personality and demeanor, both of which are coated with championship-level DNA.

Simmons is legitimately a good kid, one of the rare all-everything talents in the world of sports who stay humble and true to their roots.

On the floor, Simmons is unselfish – even sometimes to a fault. He makes the high-percentage play at all times and tries to get his teammates involved in the flow of the game.

Off it, he also seems to be clean, a true role model that an NBA franchise can cling to and build around.

I know that I’m sold, for sure.

All it took was one game for me to know that Simmons was a future NBA standout. After several more, I’m convinced that the NBA’s poorest third should all be trying to lose in order to secure Simmons’ services for the foreseeable future.

Unless, of course, he wants to return to LSU for his sophomore season.

Just kidding.

Or am I?


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