With the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Ben Simmons. After years of tanking, the Sixers “earned” the right to select one of the highest profile phenoms since LeBron James. Despite conventional wisdom, Brandon Ingram made a legitimate case to be the first pick instead. During his “one-and-done” season at Duke, Ingram averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. It’s hard to question Phildelphia’s decision. However, the organization has been a complete embarrassment for over a decade. Would you be surprised if 2016 becomes a repeat of 2007 when the Trail Blazers passed on Kevin Durant? Based on Ingram’s upside, you shouldn’t be.
In my lifetime, the most revered athlete to experience a fall from grace may be either Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods. After seeing the downfall of the greatest cyclist and golfer of this generation (and perhaps ever), I wondered if any sports hero could survive heightened public scrutiny. Of note, I thought Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning might be the only superstars beyond reproach. Jeter rode off into the sunset with his reputation intact. On the other hand, Manning may not be as fortunate. In particular, the five-time NFL MVP allegedly used HGH when recovering from neck surgery several years ago. At the same time, we can’t overlook the “mooning” incident. Whether true or not, these accusations may lead to his removal from the already-small list of “squeaky-clean” superstar athletes.
In an earlier post, I evaluated the trades made by the Rams and Eagles to move up to the first two spots in the 2016 NFL Draft. At that time, I commented that #1 overall pick Jared Goff needed to match the career of Eli Manning and #2 overall pick Carson Wentz needed to match the career of Philip Rivers to be worthy of those trades. Since then, Philadelphia traded QB Sam Bradford so the bar for Wentz has been lowered to Jay Cutler. With respect to these comparisons, Wentz has a reasonable chance to meet the target whereas Goff doesn’t. Even on an absolute basis, I predict the #2 pick will outshine the #1 pick throughout their careers.