Area of improvement #4: Defense, defense, defense
Honestly, this same skill could be assigned to every player on Portland’s roster outside of Matisse Thybulle. While some guys have solid defensive tools, the horrendous defensive issues that the Trail Blazers suffer through keep them from fielding any sort of team that can actually be competitive in the playoff picture.
Simons is still a young, somewhat undersized guard, especially for the off-guard position, but his defense is clearly the weakest part of his game. He doesn’t move well enough on that end, doesn’t move with enough purpose and focus, and can get lost on and off ball, which makes him a sieve that defenses can target more than others on the team:
Asking Simons to get better at all elements of defense, like footwork, timing, and instincts, is too ambitious. Instead, what Simons needs to focus on is improving at least one of these skills so that he isn’t a bottom-feeder defender.
If he could navigate screens better, force more live-ball turnovers, or be a more reliable switch defender, he could shore up at least a part of the Portland defense.
Whether he can do that, especially with the load he has to carry on offense, is up for debate. If Simons wants to be a star, however, it’s not a question of whether he can be a better defender.
For him to reach the ceiling of his game, Simons will need to take that end of the floor more seriously and establish himself as, at minimum, a competent NBA defender. Otherwise, stardom is out of the question.