Countdown to the NBA Draft: Kobi Simmons

With the Los Angeles Clippers 2017 second-round pick, the CelticsLife hive-mind selects: Kobi Simmons.

If NBA talent was determined by name, Simmons would be a slam-dunk this deep in the draft. Even though this isn't the case, Simmons is still a solid selection for the Boston Celtics in the 51st through 54th-pick range, where the record of the Clippers projects to place this selection, controlled by Boston in this year's draft. As many of you noted, the cap and roster situation being what it is, any player being drafted by Boston outside the first round is either going to have to have an unearthly good summer league, or be prepared to be stashed for a season for two.

All that said, Simmons might just be that guy - a natural scorer able to play either backcourt position with the athleticism, size and strength to defend one through three, Simmons can score from almost anywhere on the court, off the dribble, in transition, and can take it to the rack with an explosive first step. His shooting mechanics are fundamentally sound though imperfect, yet he is also an above-average distributor able to step back and feed the hot hand. He isn't without faults, though, which is why he's projected mid- to late-second round in most mocks; when there is no hot hand to feed, or when he's feeling his game a little bit too much, Simmons can play out of control, showing off or firing up ill-advised shots when patience and a level head would serve better.

It's hard to say whether his presence on a team with at least two other NBA-level prospects has impacted his performance, also - Allonzo Trier and Lauri Markkanen share the court with him at Arizona, and both have elite skill sets that overlap with much of what makes Simmons a shiny prospect. Simmons has been able to carve out a role even with such players presumably diminishing his individual production, with standout performances this season against often coming versus marquee matchups (for example, a 20-point, five assist night versus UCLA last January) that suggests he can rise to the occasion when his number is called.

That ability to accept a lesser role while staying engaged and ready for action may prove crucial to his draft stock; while his size, athleticism and shooting (.377 from deep on 95 attempts) are what got him noticed in the first place, whether or not he can continue to develop his weaknesses - namely decision-making, minor shot mechanics, and learning the ins-and-outs of NBA-level defenses - will have a lot to do with how successful he is at the next level. It's been demonstrated he can effectively defer to others on-court, but how well he'll he respond to professional development coaches could be the difference between potential as a solid starter and deep rotation player - or worse. The Celts are one of the better teams such a player could end up with from a training perspective, but carving out a role with the team is probably going to be an uphill battle at best.

While Kobi won by a comfortable margin - more than twice the votes of the runner-up - the difference between second and third was a razor-thin margin, with Fusek beating out Andrew White of Syracuse by just one percent of the vote. White would be a solid choice with a low floor if not very high ceiling given his age, but Fusek is a fascinating prospect given his height (7'4) and mobility on defense. Unlike the other candidates, Fusek probably has only a rotation-player ceiling due to his thin frame and poor shooting, but his length and quick feet for his size suggest he may be able to become something of a specialty defender of sorts able to switch down to slower threes.

Allen probably won't be available this late - he's projected between late first and early second by most mocks - but questions about his character could conceivably see him fall this far in such a stacked draft. He's a crafty passer and solid shooter with no glaring weaknesses apart from his tendency to be on the wrong side of the ref's whistle for engaging in...we'll say "questionable defensive techniques", to put it politely. Personally, I believe Danny Ainge's record for avoiding prospects with red flags regarding character issues will hold true, but if available so late, he may be willing to take a gamble.

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