Lakers: Could a LeBron James mentee face off against him in the Finals?

Ben Simmons, LeBron James (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons, LeBron James (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Could a LeBron James prototype be his Finals opponent?

Ever since he has come into the league, Philadelphia 76ers guard (or, forward?) Ben Simmons has been compared to that of LeBron James.

Possessing a similar broad-shoulder frame with elite ball-handling skills and court vision, the reasons for the comparisons are clear. While Simmons has a cliff to jump across both in terms of play and legacy in order to be in the same conversation as James, there’s a reason the two have been compared.

Of course, James sees it too and respects Simmons and his game. The two have been close since before Simmons became an All-Star and have worked out together in the offseason and while the NBA season was suspended.

Simmons and James worked out while the season was on pause.

Now, it’s a possibility they could face off in the Finals.

Could the Lakers and Sixers face off in the Finals?

A lot would need to fall in very specific ways in order for the Sixers and Lakers to face off in the Finals, but it’s not a truly inconceivable path.

In the Eastern Conference, the Sixers would need to get past the Raptors, Celtics, Heat, and of course, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Given that the Sixers have not found success away from their raucous home crowd this season (29-2 on the road vs 10-24 at home) it’s hard to see them walking out of the Eastern Conference with ease.

Still, the Sixers have Simmons and Embiid, two of the best young players in the league. Brett Brown has supposedly moved Shake Milton to the point guard slot and played Ben Simmons more frequently as of late at the four, a move that could present interesting challenges for Sixers opponents. It may be a more natural fit for Simmons and Milton, who has really taken off this year.

For the Lakers, they’d, of course, need to get past a gauntlet of high-powered teams. The Clippers pose the most obvious threat, but the Rockets, Jazz, Thunder, and Nuggets all could cause rifts.

So, is this really possible? With how bad the Sixers have been away from home and how painfully average they have been for a team with two All-Stars make it to the Finals?

FiveThirtyEight gives Philly a 32 percent chance of making the NBA Finals this year, the fourth-best probability of getting there. The Lakers notably are the leading team at 45 percent probability, followed by the Clippers (36 percent) and Bucks (37 percent).

There’s really no telling how the bubble playoffs will go. The playing field leaves an opening for just about any team in the playoffs to nab a Finals bid if things fall the right way, the Sixers included. The team has used the hiatus as an opportunity to restructure their roster and move Simmons to a more fitting role as a power forward, something that could elevate them or crush them.

Is it the most likely NBA Finals matchup? Probably not, but it’s one of the stronger possibilities. And if it turns out, the LeBron vs Ben Simmons storyline, mentor vs mentee, will be an excellent one to talk about.

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