— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) June 7, 2016
Shams Charania of The Vertical first reported Tuesday that Simmons and Nike were in talks over a contract:
Simmons is choosing Nike’s offer over one from adidas, marking the first time Nike has outbid adidas for a rookie player when only the two companies were involved. Adidas normally offers deals nearly twice the amount of Nike, which was required to increase its proposals for Simmons, sources said.
Simmons’ deal is believed to be one of the largest rookie deals for Nike, behind most notably LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Simmons, 19, averaged an impressive 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game in his one season at LSU. While the Tigers didn’t make the NCAA tournament, Simmons established himself as arguably college basketball’s most complete player in 2015-16 and is considered a lock to be one of the top two picks in this year’s NBA draft.
While there are aspects of Simmons’ game that need improvement—his jump shot needs work, while his intensity has been questioned at times—there is little doubt that he is a unique talent and has the potential to become a superstar. Few men his size possess his athleticism or playmaking ability, and his dribble-drive game is impressive.
If he adds a consistent jump shot, his potential will be virtually limitless. As Andrew Sharp of SI.com noted, “He can be a point forward along the lines of Draymond Green and LeBron James, and if he’s somewhere in between those two at his peak, he’ll be worth it at No. 1.”
What team wouldn’t take that type of player to build around?
He joins a long list of NBA superstars with Nike endorsement deals, including James, Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Blake Griffin, among others. Nike also continues to snatch up young talent, as the company signed the top two picks of last year’s draft, Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves and D’Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Simmons has the chance to be the league’s next superstar, something Nike is clearly banking on with this contract.