Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons didn’t have the year he would have liked. But he still has the skills to be a shot-creator in the NBA.
Anfernee Simons probably expected to be a big part of the Portland Trail Blazers rotation this 2019/20 season. After a quiet rookie season where he sat behind Seth Curry and Evan Turner as backup guards, this season, he began as the primary backup guard off the bench.
When injury issues hit hard, Simons minutes ramped up to around 22 minutes a game. His season started well from an efficiency standpoint, and he hit a couple of big shots in clutch situations. Simons, though, when he was required to do more from a defensive and ball-handling point of view, struggled.
Simons stats don’t reflect his struggles on the ball and as a defender though.
70 games, 4 starts
44.4 field goal percent, 33.2 percent, 82.6 percent
8.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.4 steals
true shooting percentage 50.2 percent, effective field goal percentage 46.9 percent
Simons shooting stats aren’t bad – 33.2 percent from three combined with 38 percent from mid-range.
Simons main issues were getting to the rim and when he was asked to play-make on the second unit. Though he is speedy and explosive, he struggled to get to the rim, meaning that opposition teams just played him as a shooter.
As a playmaker, he really struggled to set his teammates up. He was more adept at getting to his shot, as reflected by his low assists per game total of 1.4.
As a defender, he also struggled. Because of his slight body type and just being six-foot-three, he can only guard the opposition’s weakest perimeter player. His pick and roll reads were a problem, and he often found himself out of position or committing poorly timed fouls.
Simons is still only 21 though. Many young guards struggle on defense or with playmaking at this age. And potentially, Simons may just be better as a shot creator for himself. This was also a tough year, as with injuries to more senior players on the team, he was in and out of the rotation and sometimes had to play out of position at small forward, for example.
His age means that Blazer fans shouldn’t be too concerned about his struggles. This Blazer team has developed players in the past, and if Simons sticks with it, he can be part of the rotation moving forward. He will likely work on his body in the offseason, which will make a difference with his finishing at the rim and defense.
Because of his impressive leaping ability, speed, and shooting potential, Simons has a high ceiling. He will be better for his experiences this season, and can also be part of a more stable Blazer environment next season.