Portland Trail Blazers: Can Anfernee Simons carry Dame’s torch?

Anfernee Simons, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Anfernee Simons, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers will one day need their very own Spider-Man to fill in for Iron Man. Can Anfernee Simons be that guy the franchise needs?

We are far removed from the day Damian Lillard can’t carry the Portland Trail Blazers organization as a leader, ambassador and one of the best players to grace a basketball court this decade. But when that day does inevitably come, what happens next?

Not many like to think of the days when their favorite players can no longer put on a show the way they used, and why would they? It’s a depressing thought that can lead to overwhelming narcissism about your sports fandom in general. But, it’s also what the guys in suits up in the front office are paid to do.

It’s how David Robinson passed the torch on down to Tim Duncan. Or how Brett Favre paved the road for Aaron Rodgers. Could Anfernee Simons be the next memorable successor, after having Dame as a mentor to help cultivate his talent and reach his full potential?

Well, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. That much remains to be seen. But let’s focused on what we have seen.

We’ve seen a top draft prospect fall deep in the draft to Portland due to his decision to forego college. We’ve seen Lillard and head coach Terry Stotts establish a great locker room environment that helps elevate each other. And we’ve seen Simons dominate with his shot-creating ability whenever he’s given substantial minutes.

But if you someone missed his performance last season, don’t take my word for it — watch him yourself.

In this year’s Las Vegas Summer League, Simons went 11-for-17 (64.7 percent) from 3-point range en route to being named to the All-Summer League Second Team. In four games in the G League, he hit 10 of 21 (47.6 percent) shots from deep. Last year’s season finale against Sacramento was the first time he played above 13 minutes in a game and he rewarded Portland by shooting 7-for-11 from deep in a 37 point, 9 assist performance that potentially saved the Blazers season.

Point is, the kid can shoot. But as seen above, he can also slash.

Simons scored on 77.8 percent of his shots within 3 feet of the hoop last year. For comparison, Dame only scored on 56.2 percent of his shots within that range last season. To be fair, Simons’ sample size is much smaller and he didn’t have the same green light to take contested shots as Lillard does. But it’s still reassuring to see Simons to display so much versatility when he’s set to be the face of the Portland Trail Blazers’ future.

So if the question is if Anfernee can be the guy who carries Dame’s torch when he’s ready to step down, I think we can confidently agree he absolutely has the potential to be the guy that ushers in the next generation of Blazers basketball.

Next. Is Jamal Crawford the missing piece in Portland?. dark

Oh, and just another reminder, he only just turned 20-years-old. Portland has a good one on their hands.