June 28, 2016
In an effort to provide some form of competitive balance, professional sports leagues allow their worst teams the chance to draft the best amateur talent first. So even in an extremely down period for Philadelphia sports, there is room for optimism.
With perhaps the exception of young German Rubstov, Philly teams have made some critical draft selections over the past few months at the top of their respective drafts. With those high picks come major expectations. So the question that we ask today is a simple one: Which athlete eventually makes the biggest impact on the Philly sports landscape, Carson Wentz, Ben Simmons, or Mickey Moniak?
Vote in the poll, and in case you’re still undecided, we have some pros and cons for each guy listed below.
• Stars matter: Ever since the Sixers started The Process, the goal was fairly straightforward: Acquire a couple of Top-20 players, and while you’re at it, try and get a few more. Underdogs don’t generally do so well in the NBA. There’s a reason that two players who won six of the past eight MVP awards matched up in the finals the past two seasons. Simmons definitely has some talent.
• High ceiling: The Sixers have other chances to land stars. If Joel Embiid can stay healthy, he will very likely be a star. Maybe the Kings pick swap or Lakers pick produces another star-level talent. Maybe free agency then becomes an option, and some of the league’s marquee players start to consider playing in Philly. If Simmons is good, he might not be stuck on an island like Allen Iverson was during his prime.
• Low floor: Even if Simmons lives up to his lofty expectations, all of those variables (Embiid’s health, in particular) could leave Simmons with a shaky supporting cast. Plus, you know, the Aussie isn’t necessarily a slam-dunk superstar either. What happens if the jump shot doesn’t progress?
• Dealing with LeBron: He still plays in the east, after all.
• Positional importance: In the NFL, you generally either have a quarterback or aren’t a contender. No matter what is going on with the rest of their rosters, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady cover up for weaknesses. If Wentz can become an elite player at his position, the Eagles will be set for a decade at the most critical position in sports. Basically, if Wentz is good, he'll be a big deal.
• Football is king: In terms of impact, the NFL means the most here. All things being equal, an Eagles Super Bowl win would make Philadelphia happiest. So if we are simply counting titles when all three players are retired, the tie would automatically go to Wentz.
• Lack of help: We mentioned this in our latest poll, but Howie Roseman gave up a lot in the trade to get Wentz. Without a good bit of draft capital over the next few years, the Eagles will have less room for error with some of their decisions.
• Stepping up in competition: I’m not even sure if I believe this one (plenty of FCS quarterbacks have done well in the NFL), but Wentz played for the juggernaut of all juggernauts. You could probably argue his adjustment will be greater than most.
• Resources: Moniak is part of a very strong farm system, and the Phillies only figure to get better with tons of money to spend on free agents in the next few years. Even if Moniak is only the leadoff hitter in a great lineup, Jimmy Rollins still managed to make quite an impact in a similar role.
• Less pressure: Of the three, Moniak clearly has the lowest set of expectations. Viewed as more a piece to the Phillies puzzle than a franchise changer, maybe the California high schooler can thrive going a bit under the radar.
• Slot value: This isn’t to say that Moniak doesn’t have a ton of talent (he seems to be a great hitter), but the Phils took him in part because he came relatively cheap. The Sixers and Eagles didn’t have the same sort of financial considerations when making their pick.
• Less experience: Even if Simmons didn’t make the NCAA Tournament and Wentz was going up against 1-AA competition, we at least saw them perform at a high level in college. With Moniak, there’s at least a little more mystery, even if he's sold as an advanced hitter.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann