November 8, 2017

Rookie-Sophomore combos: who would you rather have?

I'm watching the Celtics vs Lakers on TV right now, and I realized that the Sixers, Lakers and Celtics have in effect picked 1-2-3 in the past two NBA drafts.

So, I naturally went to thinking, which Rookie-Sophomore tandem would you rather have on your team?

Ben Simmons + Markelle Fultz?

Brandon Ingram + Lonzo Ball?

Jaylen Brown + Jayson Tatum?

I know it's early in the season but one can argue that the Celtics have the most productive tandem, from a statistical point of view and from a team fit point of view.

A quick look at the 2017-2018 YTD stats for all three pairs reveals that Brown and Tatum are combining for 29.7 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.6 steals while shooting at least 46% from the field and 40% from 3-point land. Wow, that's pretty solid.

One can argue that Simmons is having the best season so far individually as he is averaging a double-double (18.7 points and 10.1 rebounds) along with 8 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks. He's probably going to win rookie of the year and was well worth both the lofty draft position and the one-year wait. 

However, his partner in crime, Fultz, has not been healthy and struggled a lot when he did play.

For the Lakers, Ingram looks more and more comfortable and his numbers are trending up. Ball is solid too, despite letting is fantasy owners down with his low shooting numbers (30% from the field and 23% from 3-points) and low scoring. Once those shooting numbers trend upward, I can totally see him as a young Jason Kidd.

I guess your choice will depend on your preference.

The Celtics are obviously looking to "win now" and both guys are perfect fits in Brad Stevens position-less system. Both are already solid contributors and still show a lot of upside.

Simmons is probably going to an All-Star game before any of the other five here and it's too early to judge Fultz as a bust.

The Lakers have two promising young players but you have to wonder how Ingram will fit in or even develop if the Lakers do land a few prized free agents next off season. Ball will probably benefit from playing with established stars, but Ingram will likely regress without proper playing time.

This is why building an NBA team is easier said than done. Each player clearly has their own strengths and merely picking the two best players out of the six might not result in a better situation.

If we judge these picks based on the most important result -- winning games -- then it looks like the Celtics duo wins by a wide margin. But had the Sixer picked both with their pick, the results will definitely not translate.

Let's see down the road which of these two dynamic duos will go down as the best. For now, watch the games and enjoy what will likely be a growing rivalry among all three pairs!

Note: all stats taken from