The difference between CJ McCollum and Anfernee Simons
While CJ McCollum and Anfernee Simons are both scoring-minded guards, they’re vastly different players.
For one, Ant is the clearly superior athlete. Simons is taller, longer, faster, and more vertically gifted. His physical profile alone makes him a better defender in theory than CJ.
McCollum was measured at 6’3 with a 6’6 wingspan at the 2012 Deron Williams Skills Academy. In comparison, Simons clocked in at 6’3 with a 6’9 wingspan.
His athleticism mostly shows when he’s exploding to the rim, but it also allows him to slide his feet laterally with ease and use his length to contain ballhandlers.
Don’t get it twisted, Simons is far from a good defender. The point I’m trying to make is that Simons has much more capacity to become a lockdown stopper than CJ ever did.
Simons is still a poor defender but not because he’s physically unable to slow down opposing guards. His deficits lie within the little aspects of defense that will be nurtured with time: defensive positioning, off-ball attention, and navigating screens.
For what it’s worth, Ant is already having a positive impact on the defensive end this season. The Portland Trail Blazers allow a little over 113 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and over 115 points when he’s sitting.
I’m not saying that Simons is a great defender or even that he’ll necessarily become one someday, but he does have the tools to grow into one.