No. 2: Anfernee Simons
Anfernee Simons increased his minutes per game from 29.5 to 35 this season. Due to his increased opportunity and improved skill set, Simons had his best year at age 23.
Simons averaged 21.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game this season on 45/38/89 shooting splits.
For context, Simons averaged 17.3 points, 3.9 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game last year on 44/40/89 shooting splits. Simons had an impressive season in which he increased his minutes but didn’t negatively impact his efficiency.
In terms of advanced statistics, Simons improved his RAPTOR player rating from -0.3 last season to +1.1 this season. In addition, he made a significant leap on the defensive end, increasing his rating from -2.5 to -0.7. As a result, Simons’ wins above replacement this season was 4.2, which was second best on the team behind only Damian Lillard.
While still a defensive liability, Simons has proven his value offensively. His RAPTOR and WAR ratings support the idea that he can still positively contribute to a team while being a negative defensively. Simons is a sharpshooter that should hover around 40 percent from three for the rest of his career. As he gains experience in the league, he should also continue to improve his playmaking.
Another factor that makes Simons a positive trade asset is his contract. He has three years remaining on a four-year, $100 million deal. Given the state of the NBA’s contracts and Simons’ expected developmental trajectory, teams will be intrigued by his favorable contract in relation to his talent and age. Concerns surrounding Simons’ ability to handle an increased role were answered following the season he had.
For as talented as he is, Simons could personally benefit from playing on a team away from Lillard. If Simons had a team of his own in a system built around getting him open looks and covering for him defensively, he could thrive even more than he has in Portland.
A 20-point-per-game scorer at only 23 years old, Simons will be a heavily coveted asset should the Blazers decide to explore trade options for him.