The Goods 2.0: Ben Simmons is More Like Lamar Odom Than LeBron James

In the game of basketball, we all are guilty of making the notion of finding the next once-in-a-lifetime talent. To some, the search for the next Michael Jordan was a failed one, and I am sure that we will not find the next Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. These types of comparisons make fans underappreciate the greatness of players who don't live up to those "heir apparent" billings.

That brings me to talk about college basketball’s freshman sensation out of LSU, Ben Simmons.

While the basketball world wants Simmons to evolve into the next James, it’s a bit unfair to say that he will ever become as good as the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar. In fact, he is more Lamar Odom than what many realize.

The basketball parallels between Simmons and Odom have been overlooked, due to everyone wanting to anoint Simmons as the next all-time great.

I am not going to sit here and say that I am the biggest college basketball fan or even the most knowledgeable about the sport. I watch the great players play year in and year out, and I follow my team (Ohio State) during the highs and lows.

Nonetheless, I have been a frequent spectator of the Ben Simmons Show. The freshman from LSU needs no introduction. Before even scoring his first points in Baton Rouge, the comparisons were already revealed. Recently, NBA great Magic Johnson even tweeted this and this about the diaper dandy:

Magic may be right stating that he could be the best prospect since the King, and he’s not alone with that thinking. But while many basketball pundits expect Simmons become the next LBJ, there is nothing wrong with being The Goods 2.0.

On the latest edition of the Jalen and Jacoby Show on ESPN Radio, Jalen Rose put my thoughts into fruition. The height is the same, the style of play is reminiscent, the inconsistencies with shooting are applicable, he’s displayed his savant passing ability and the unselfishness is there — all like Odom.

Simmons is a better scorer at this point in his career than Odom, but let’s remember that Odom was a pretty solid scorer at Rhode Island. In his lone season of college basketball, Odom averaged 17.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. So far this season, Simmons is averaging 20.1 PPG, 12.9 RPG and 5.2 APG. The two are in similar territory, playing with teammates who will probably never play in the NBA as well as having to do everything for the team — well, except for driving the bus to the games.

While Lamar Odom didn’t become an All-Star, he did become a two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1999, when Odom entered the NBA, power forward was considered the deepest position in the Association. As time went on into the early 2000s, Odom was overshadowed by sharing prime years with Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Webber, Rasheed Wallace, Elton Brand and Kevin Garnett. Odom’s versatility was always appreciated, but it wasn’t enough to propel him with the great power forwards at the time.

In hindsight, Odom’s style of play may have been ahead of its time. The NBA is converting to a position-less game, and talented big men are an anomaly. With the NBA lacking dominant big guys, teams can put their best five on the court regardless of size. I can’t imagine how much damage Odom would have done as a “small-ball” center in today’s NBA.

Unlike L.O., he enter the NBA at a different stage. Players in the NBA that 6'10" or taller are not as good as they were during the glory years of the 2000s. Now that the league is perimeter player-driven, Simmons has a chance to stand out as one of the best in the game if he continues to hone his skills. Due to players like LeBron James and Draymond Green, teams are salivating over players that can do it all on the court. The Aussie from down under is that type of player.

As the college basketball season continues and when the NBA Draft looms, the comparisons will only continue to grow. Being compared to one the best basketball players to ever play the game is a gift and a curse; just ask the King himself. Simmons has a chance to be a great player, and he has been one of the most intriguing prospects in recent memory. For what it’s worth, he’ll never be LeBron, and that’s perfectly fine.

Being dubbed as “The Goods 2.0” will allow Simmons to grow exponentially as a player since Odom wasn’t an all-time great. There will be no dark cloud of having to win several championship rings or to even be a savior to a franchise with being compared to L.O. On the other hand, it’s a legitimate comparison (and a bit of a compliment).

Whether being compared to LeBron James or Lamar Odom, let’s enjoy the ride that the baby-faced baller has allowed us to witness as he attempts to revamp the old-school basketball fan's approach of the one-and-done moniker.

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