Revisiting the national media’s predictions for the 2019-20 Portland Trail Blazers

Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

No. 2: SI predicts Anfernee Simons’ Most Improved Player of the Year nod

The seeds for blossom in 2019-20 were planted in the year prior for Anfernee Simons. Because the Blazers backcourt represented a position of depth, Portland was able to ease him, relegating point guard duties to the likes of Lillard, Seth Curry, and even Evan Turner.

So, you tell me what was more amazing: the fact that players, fans, and coaches alike created that much of a rave about Simons after just 141 minutes of actual play, or the fact that he was scoring one point for every two minutes he played?

You could put Simons’ per 36 numbers on the side of say, Lillard and McCollum, and you probably wouldn’t be able to grasp much of a difference. And because he blitzed the entire city of Sacramento for a culture-shaking (we didn’t necessarily know it yet), playoff seed-altering 37-point game on the last night of the regular season, that praise reverberated from local to national.

Neil Olshey took it a step further in the 2019 Media Day, with this statement: “(Simons is) as gifted a player as anyone I’ve drafted in my 15 years in the league.” With that hype in his back pocket, Simons saw that taken to the next level, when Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated picked him for the Most Improved Player of the Year Award:

"“Since it’s always a pain to predict, I like to use this award as an excuse to earmark young players on the verge of a breakout. I don’t know yet if Simons sees quite enough minutes to win this award, but I do know I’m extremely excited to watch him play. The 20-year-old guard is positioned for a real role, crucial to Portland sustaining its success, and there wasn’t a more impressive player at summer league. He’s one of the league’s better-kept secrets, but don’t expect that to last too long.”"

Barring some sort of Space Jam level of skill theft, Simons isn’t at all likely to take home a Most Improved Player of the Year award this season, despite some big increases across the board. His numbers have jumped from 7.1 to 21.5 (+14.4), his points have gone from 3.8 to 8.8 (+5.0), and while his efficiency suffered a drop, many advanced metrics have been on the uptick, as well as rebounds and assists.

All in all, it’s probably one that Woo wishes he could have back, but it’s certainly understandable, given what we expected to see from the young stud this season.