Recently, The Athletic continued its series of NBA Power Rankings. This time, Zach Harper took a look back at all of the top No. 1 overall picks in NBA history to rank them accordingly. And to no surprise at all, multiple Philadelphia 76ers made an appearance.
I'll start with the easy one -- Allen Iverson. When the Sixers selected Iverson back in the late nineties, they were getting a player who is viewed as undersized for the NBA. However, Iverson was one of a handful of NBA players who beat the odds.
The 1996 first-overall selection never delivered an NBA Finals win to Philadelphia, unfortunately. But not a single person in the city holds that over Iverson's head.
The six-foot guard from Georgetown embodied Philadelphia sports. Although he wasn't a big fan of practice, as many would joke, Iverson truly did leave it all out on the floor on game night, no matter what. As a Hall of Famer, Iverson earned his right to crack No. 13 the power rankings.
"As dominant culturally as he was as a scorer. The Philadelphia 76ers catered to Allen Iverson in a way we hadn't seen much of before. He was given the ball, surrounded with defenders, and told to go win them some ugly games."
"He grabbed an MVP with that style of play. He made All-NBA teams, and eventually the Hall of Fame. We can debate plenty whether Iverson would work in a modern era because of the efficiency topic and his poor defense despite good steals numbers. But Iverson terrified defenses from the moment he stepped on the court."
Next up is a player who is highly-scrutinized in the NBA. Therefore, it was a bit of a head-scratcher to see him make the list. Ben Simmons, the Sixers' third-year guard out of LSU, hasn't been in the NBA for long.
But the multi-talented guard shows up on the list at No. 22. While Simmons' lack of a jump shot has created just as many critics as there are supporters of his, the Sixers guard makes up for his shooting by being elite in other areas of the game.
"A lot of this is projecting a relatively injury-free existence for Simmons and a decent trajectory of growth for the Philadelphia 76ers All-Star. But let's say there's a scenario in which Simmons doesn't get any better than he currently is at 23. Let's say he maintains this level of play for a decade before he begins to decline around 33."
"That means we're going to get around 10 All-Star Games, at least a half dozen All-Defensive Team selections, and career totals of around/at least 16,000 points, 8,000 assists, and 8,000 rebounds. Only LeBron James and Jason Kidd have those three thresholds for points, assists and rebounds. That's not to say that's all that matters, but we're looking at an elite, historic club to be in."
Ben Simmons has a long way to go before he reaches Hall of Fame status like Iverson. Three years into his career, though, Simmons is so far, so good. Like many NBA superstars, the former LSU product has had his hiccups and growing pains. But none of Simmons' struggles should truly overshadow the fact that he's a reliable playmaker, elite defender, and consistently puts on a tireless performance each night.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_