In terms of physical attributes, Simmons has a great package. He stands 6-10 in shoes, with an outstanding 7-4 wingspan. His frame is outstanding and will undoubtedly fill out perfectly as he continues to mature physically. As an athlete, Simmons has a terrific bounce to his step, fitting the bill and then some for a modern day NBA power forward or center. He has outstanding quickness in particular, great explosiveness with his vertical leap, and very solid footspeed.
Offensively, Simmons is raw, but shows sparks of potential at times with the moves hell make in the post, for example with an occasional spin-move, drop-step, or pivot move. He appears to be a well-coached player and a fairly quick learner, which leaves some room for optimism about the fact that he will develop into a capable offensive player down the road. As a passer is where he surprises you the most, clearly having learned a thing or two from the Princeton offense and showing signs of solid court vision with the bounce passes hell drop from the high or low post. Although he rarely got a chance to show it, his jump-shot doesnt look half bad, either. He elevates off the floor the way a small forward would, and has nice mechanics complete with a high release point.
Where Simmons will be able to offer the most early on in his career is as a defender and rebounder. His size, length and athleticism help him out greatly in this area, but he is also not afraid to throw his body around down low to make his presence felt. He covers ground quickly and elevates intelligently from the weak-side to come up with blocks, and will even block shots on the ball on occasion, showing nice timing in the process. Simmons boxes out well for rebounds, and again, effort is never an issue with him. His tenacity helps him out greatly as a rebounder, and its not rare to see him go well out of his area to track one down, particularly on the offensive end.
His court demeanor is solid and by all accounts hes an excellent kid off the court who is likely to achieve his upside due to his solid work-ethic. There is little doubt that he hasnt reached anywhere near his full potential as a player.
Simmons wasnt a particularly dominant force on the collegiate level besides a few occasional sparks he showed at times. Its fairly obvious that he is more of a long term project due to his youth and lack of all-around polish, so patience will be needed from the team that drafts him.
Offensively is where Simmons has the furthest to go at this point. He looks very mechanical in many of the moves he makes, being highly tentative and not exactly sure of what he is capable of executing effectively. The lack of touch he shows around the hoop is what will need to improve the most, as he at times just tries to throw the ball at the basket from 5-8 out rather than being fundamentally sound and efficient with the moves he attempts. Developing a go-to move should be a priority for him. His left-hand is almost non-existent, favoring his right so strongly that he becomes a little predictable at times. He doesnt really know how to use his body well enough to establish position down in the post, being pushed around for the most part due to his current lack of strength.
In all fairness, though, Simmons never got anywhere near the amount of touches he deserved in the conservative and perimeter oriented N.C. State version of the Princeton offense, which may have affected his confidence and slowed down his learning curve to a certain extent. Very often hed have his man sealed, only to be completely ignored by his wing players due to their obsession with backdoor cuts and fadeaway 3-pointers. .
Although once in a blue moon he would show some sparks of potential, for the most part Simmons face-up game is nowhere near polished enough. His ball-handling skills are what he is lacking the most, from the perimeter in particular but also in the post while trying to create offense for himself.
Defensively, there is plenty of room for improvement as well. Although his frame is excellent, his body has yet to fill out, which means he gets pinned down or outmuscled quite frequently. His timing and footwork still arent 100%, but for the most part most of his weaknesses here revolve around his lack of strength and experience. Foul trouble has been a major issue for him in his college career thus far. He often sticks his hands in places they should not be, and tries to save the day at times with a spectacular play rather than helping his team more by allowing himself to stay on the floor. One thing Simmons will enjoy in the NBA more than college is the fact that hell allowed to actually be physical in the post, the way he enjoys, and throw his body around.
Simmons played for NC State, a consistently good to very good team that plays in one of the tougher conferences in America, the ACC. As a freshman he was almost a complete non-factor (10 minutes per game) on a team that was owned for all intents and purposes by current Denver Nuggets guard Julius Hodge. With Hodge graduating, Simmons stepped into a bigger role for the Wolf Pack (12 points, 6 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 1.7 assists per game), but was very inconsistent due to his lack of polish, foul trouble and the fact that he clearly wasnt a great fit in the Princeton offense.
Simmons is in good shape for this draft, as his combination of strengths (height, length, frame, athleticism, tenacity, attitude, budding skills, upside) is extremely rare, while his weaknesses are, for the most part, highly improvable. He is still testing the waters at this point in late May, but is likely to stay in the draft once hes told that hes a likely top-20 pick. This is not a great draft year for bigs, and if teams will reach for someone, it will be for a player like Cedric Simmons. Hell probably be drafted somewhere from the late lottery to late teens when its all said and done. He projects as a power forward, but can certainly steal some minutes at center due to his length and athleticism in todays small-ball infatuated NBA, particularly once he adds weight to his terrific frame.