Lakers' LeBron James Has Heavy Praise for 76ers' Ben Simmons

Justin Grasso

When the Philadelphia 76ers selected Ben Simmons out of LSU back in the 2016 NBA Draft, Philly believed they were getting something similar to the next LeBron James. Simmons, who is a big-bodied player with the skill set of a guard, had clear-cut similarities to the future NBA Hall of Famer.

To make matters better, James was one of Simmons' mentors throughout his High School and College basketball career. Therefore, Sixers fans anticipated LeBron James-like production from Simmons. While Simmons' defense, passing, and ability to get to the rim on offense has been elite at times -- many can't seem to get past the fact that the third-year guard is not shooting enough.

During his first two seasons in the NBA, Simmons had to hear tons of criticism based on the idea he can't shoot a three-point shot. A summer's worth of highlights in a public gym with hoops trainer, Chris Johnson, proved otherwise. The Sixers' point guard vowed to put his improved long-range shooting to use in 2019, but he didn't exactly do it at a desirable rate. Therefore, many called Simmons out on his work ethic. 

But Los Angeles Lakers superstar, LeBron James, isn't going to let that sort of criticism slide without dishing in his two cents. "He worked his tail off," LeBron said in regards to Simmons' past summer. "The sky's the limit for Ben. His size, his strength, his vision, his IQ ... he carries himself as someone who believes he's the best, as you should."

So, if Simmons worked on his three-point shot, and proved multiple times he can drain it, why isn't he consistently taking a chance? Well, the two-time All-Star recently admitted that confidence had been an issue up until this point. Many around Simmons understand that, including LeBron James.

"As long as he doesn't care about what other people say, he'll be fine," James claimed. "Nine times out of 10, people who criticize you have never done anything in their life. Either that or they're jealous 'cause you're better than them." There's hope in Philly that Simmons realizes he can consistently be compared to LeBron James once he fully utilizes his jump shot. First, Simmons has to get past the mental aspect, though.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_