ESPN’s expert panel ranked the players in the NBA that fall between No. 26 and No. 50 in the league.
Here’s what ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne had to say about Simmons, who was ranked No. 28.
“Simmons would like a fresh start on a new team after a disastrous playoff performance last spring that highlighted his weaknesses as a shooter,” Shelburne wrote. “Philadelphia has looked for a trade that returns even a modicum of value for the former No. 1 overall pick, who finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season. But so far, the Sixers haven’t found any offer they feel good about. If Simmons really doesn’t show up to training camp, as he has threatened, this could get even uglier.”
Westbrook, who was acquired by the Lakers this offseason, was ranked just one spot below at No. 29.
“Westbrook joins his third new team in as many seasons but this is the place the Los Angeles native wants to be,” ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk wrote. “Westbrook made history last season by passing Oscar Robertson for most triple-doubles in history while helping will the Wizards to the playoffs. But now he comes to L.A. having to prove that his style of play can fit in with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Which of the Lakers’ Big Three will take a step back without the ball in his hands? Will the Lakers have enough shooters on the floor? And will they have enough defense? Of course, Westbrook and the Lakers are eager to answer these questions and prove doubters wrong.”
It’s surprising to see Westbrook ranked below Simmons after the latter’s struggles in the playoffs last season.
The Lakers are hoping Westbrook will be the missing piece to another title run, and the former MVP will look to prove he deserves to be much higher in this ranking.