Before being inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend, Shaquille O’Neal briefly turned focus away from himself when speaking of one notable rookie from this year’s draft class.
The player who drew praise from Shaq was, unsurprisingly, Ben Simmons, the number one pick in this year’s NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
He described Simmons as a ‘LeBron-type player’, before explaining: “What I mean by that, LeBron does a nice job of making everybody else around him better – passing the ball, doing the small things, Ben is that type of player.”
Shaq has paid attention to Simmons for some time now, as the highly recruited youngster made the decision to attend O’Neal’s alma mater, Louisiana State University, for his sole season of college basketball.
“I know my guy’s going to be pretty good,” he said. “He’s very, very intelligent, he plays the game very well.”
Despite being the number one overall pick by the 76ers, Simmons’ short time at LSU was far from smooth.
Although he put up impressive numbers, with his 19.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game both close to Shaq’s averages during his time at college, he was criticised as the team played poorly overall and did not even qualify for the NCAA tournament.
However, O’Neal made a point of defending the Australian youngster’s performances, saying: “He took a lot of flak at LSU with not really taking over games, but he’s young, he’ll get to that.”
Philadelphia will certainly be hoping Shaq is correct with his predictions for their young star’s career, with Simmons getting ready to showcase his talent on the biggest stage when the new season starts next month.
The Aussie has already impressed with his play during Summer League, and if his career is anything similar to LeBron’s, the 76ers will be over the moon.