*Disclaimer: None of this is reported information, in fact, most of this is just reckless speculation. But humor me anyway.
It’s been a few days since the NBA draft, but we may have missed a nice storyline between two of the top prospects that were selected. Ben Simmons and Jaylen Brown have been tied to each other for a few years. The two were one and two respectivley throughout their high school careers with Simmons always being the consensus number one prospect with Brown not so far behind. In 2014, Simmons and 1st ranked Montverde Academy played against Brown’s 10th ranked Wheeler High School in the City of Palms Classic. Montverde was riding a 44 game winstreak and were back to back champions. However, that didn’t stop Wheeler from dethroning the back-to-back champions and snapping the streak with a 72-65 win. Simmons led all scorers with 28 points and 11 rebounds, while Brown went for 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists.
With a potential rematch looming, the schools expressed no love lost between each other. Simmons, opting to downplay the rivalry said, “I hope they get the final game. I hope we do”. On the other side, Brown, (mostly responding to Simmons teammate Doral Moore) had to this to say about a potential rematch, “I’m sure they wold be upset and think it’s a fluke, and they’re looking out for vengence, but hey, we’re not hiding”. Brown’s Wildcats would eventually lose before the finals, and Montverde went on to win the tournament.
From this point there hasn’t been much publicy said, but it seems that Brown has taken a few subliminal shots at Simmons since the end of the season. Here is what he said on May 7th:
This happened a few days before the NBA combine which Simmons decided not to attend. Some saw the move as an attempt to run away from any possible competition, or at least that’s how Brown saw it. Still not convinced? After being introduced as a Boston Celtic, here is what Brown said (unpromoted), when asked about his confidence going into the draft process:
“A lot of guys go to college to prove how great they are and cover the things that they need to work on. For me, it was laying it all out and re-evaluating from the top…”
In retrospect the idea of Brown seeing Simmons as a someone who’s running from his weaknesses has some merit. Simmons went to a lower school where he wouldn’t be pressured to do anything that could exploit his weaknesses (like taking a jumpshot). Then, after the season, he declares for the draft and never gets into any competitve workouts. Brown on the other hand, was one of the only prospects projected in the top 5 to actually do competitve workouts.
As an outsider, this just seems smart on Simmons part. Ride the wave while you’re high, and don’t do anything to jepoardize it. However, athletes are one of the most competitive people on the planet, and constantly being told you’re not as good as someone you feel that you’re better than had to be eating at Brown. Crazy enough, the two are now in the same conference meaning that barring any trades, they’ll be seeing each other four times a year for at least the next 8 seasons. In that time Brown will have every chance to make his claim as the best player in the class.
*If you’re wondering why all the attacks seem one-sided it’s because up to this point there is nothing publicy or subliminally that i’ve found on Simmons regarding Brown. It makes sense, if he goes back and forth then he’s only creating a situation and adding pressure on himself that he didn’t need to take on. However, if there is actually anything between the two, you have to imagine it’s going to come out at some point during this season since both come in as day one contributing players.