Last week, former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
While speaking with the media, O’Neal was asked by CSN Philly about the 2016 rookie class and if any players stood out as future stars.
O’Neal said he’s familiar with the No. 1 overall pick’s game because he attended LSU, O’Neal’s alma mater, and compared his unique skill set and potential on-court impact to that of arguably the best player in the world: Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.
“He’s a LeBron-type player,” O’Neal said of the 20-year-old forward. “What I mean by that, LeBron does a nice job of making everybody else around him better — passing the ball, doing the small things — and Ben is that type of player.”
Despite impressive averages of 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game — numbers not too far off of O’Neal’s collegiate production of 21.6 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists over three seasons at LSU — Simmons received criticism because LSU underachieved preseason expectations and missed the NCAA tournament.
O’Neal views Simmons’ freshman season differently, though.
“He took a lot of flack (sic), especially at LSU with not really taking over games,” O’Neal said. “But he’s young. He’ll get to that.
“When it comes to other aspects of the game, he’s very, very intelligent. He plays the game very well.”