Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

The Eagles tested draft prospects in a unique way. What if the Sixers had done that with Ben Simmons? | Mike Sielski

Nick Sirianni had players at the NFL combine shoot baskets on a mini hoop to test their competitiveness. Here's how that exercise would have played out if the other teams in town tried the same thing.

Former Sixers star Ben Simmons looks on during practice in October at the team's practice facility in Camden.
Former Sixers star Ben Simmons looks on during practice in October at the team's practice facility in Camden.Read moreJOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni revealed the other day that he and the team’s scouting staff had draft prospects shoot at least five shots on a miniature basketball hoop during interviews at the NFL combine. The Eagles hoped that the exercise would give them a sense of each player’s competitiveness, that it would reveal something about how each player might perform at football’s highest level. We wondered what the exercise might have revealed about a few current and former Philadelphia athletes.


April 27, 2016. The night before the NFL Draft.

DOUG PEDERSON: That was amazing. You made 15 straight shots from all around the room! Well done.

CARSON WENTZ: I’m the best.

PEDERSON: OK, let’s say it’s the final game of the season, and your team has a postseason berth at stake, and you’re playing the worst team in the NFL. Go.

(Wentz misses all five shots.)

PEDERSON: Hey, can’t make ‘em all! Forget about it, Carson. Can’t wait to get you in Eagles green. Thanks so much for meeting with us. We gotta run. Got another meeting with another quarterback.

WENTZ: Another quarterback?


WENTZ: You’re thinking of drafting another quarterback?

PEDERSON: Well, maybe.

WENTZ: If I’m your guy, why would you consider drafting another quarterback?

PEDERSON: Well, it’s always smart to have a good backup.

WENTZ: I hate you. Don’t draft me.


June 24, 2014. The night before the NBA Draft.

SAM HINKIE: Here we go, big guy.

JOEL EMBIID: I’m thirsty. Can I have a drink?

HINKIE: Sure. Anything. What would you like?

EMBIID: A Shirley Temple.

(An hour passes before Embiid finishes his drink.)

» READ MORE: The Sixers’ culture doesn’t revolve around Joel Embiid. It is Joel Embiid. | Mike Sielski

EMBIID: Can I have one more?

(Another Shirley Temple, another hour.)

HINKIE: Joel, none of the other prospects took this long to shoot. Is this going to be worth the wait?

(Embiid swishes all five shots.)


April 22, 2020. The night before the NFL Draft.

HOWIE ROSEMAN: OK, we’d like you to take five shots on this mini hoop.

JALEN REAGOR: No problem.


(Roseman tosses Reagor the ball. Reagor drops it.)

ROSEMAN: No worries! One more time.

(Roseman tosses Reagor the ball again. Reagor drops it again.)

ROSEMAN: Not a big deal! Just relax.

(Roseman hands Reagor the ball. Reagor runs to his right, runs to his left, runs backward, then, for no apparent reason, chucks the ball at the ceiling.)


February 26, 2019. Clearwater, Fla.

JOHN MIDDLETON: All right, Bryce. Can I call you “Bryce?” Of course I can. I’m planning to give you $330 million! So, if you could, just fire up a few shots on this little basket here.

BRYCE HARPER: Easy peasy, Johnny.

(Harper makes his first shot. He stands there, staring in the distance. Thirty seconds pass.)

MIDDLETON: Bryce, are you going to shoot again?

HARPER: Give me a minute, Johnny. Still admiring the first one.


April 16, 1999. The night before the NFL Draft.

ANDY REID: We think you can be the greatest quarterback this franchise has ever had, but you have to be tough to succeed in Philly. Imagine when you’re shooting these shots that the Super Bowl is on the line.

DONOVAN MCNABB: You got it, Coach.

(Reid hands McNabb the ball. McNabb throws a bounce pass toward the basket.)

REID: No, Don, we want you to shoot the ball.

MCNABB: I did.


June 24, 2006, 5:32 a.m. The NHL Draft begins later the same day.

BOB CLARKE: Enough! I love an all-nighter as much as the next guy, but I’m exhausted. Look, we love you. We’re going to pick you in the first round. We don’t need to keep doing this.

CLAUDE GIROUX: I don’t understand this. I’m playing my best. I’m trying my hardest. Why can’t I win just one? No, I’m not leaving until I win here.

CLARKE: Fine. We’ll try this one more time. You know the drill. It’s the first round of the playoffs. These shots determine if the Flyers move on to the next round. Go.

(Giroux bricks the first shot.)


June 22, 2016. The night before the NBA Draft.

BRYAN COLANGELO: We’re really excited about tomorrow night. Just one last thing before we finish up here. It might seem silly, but could you take five shots on this little hoop for us?


(Colangelo passes him the ball. Simmons passes it back.)

COLANGELO: No, Ben. We want you to shoot.

SIMMONS: Yeah … no.

COLANGELO: What do you mean “No?”

SIMMONS: I don’t do that.

COLANGELO: Ben, look, we know you’re a great player, and we know your shooting ability probably isn’t where you want it to be yet. Just give it a try.


COLANGELO: Ben, this is the NBA. You’re going to have to shoot sometimes.

SIMMONS: No, I don’t, and you can’t make me.

COLANGELO: Well, you’re right. But please, Ben, just try.

SIMMONS: My brother can shoot for me.

COLANGELO: No, he can’t, Ben. Please, just take one shot.

SIMMONS: I have a tummy ache.

COLANGELO: You don’t have a freaking tummy ache! Shoot the ball!

SIMMONS: You’re making me feel bad about myself.

COLANGELO: Do you have any idea how many people on Twitter will mock you for this?

» READ MORE: No, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni isn’t a rockhead for playing a kid’s game during pre-draft interviews | Mike Sielski

SIMMONS: I don’t care. I’m gonna get paid either way.

COLANGELO: Fine. You win. Let’s try something else. Rock, Paper, Scissors, shoot!

(Simmons passes out.)