Blazers guard suffers heartbreaking setback in potential breakout season

Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The injury bug has bitten the Portland Trail Blazers already, less than 48 hours after the opening game of the 2023-24 regular season. Guard Anfernee Simons, who was expected to fill Damian Lillard’s shoes as the Blazers’ top offensive option and leading scorer, is expected to miss the next four to six weeks after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right thumb.

An MRI confirmed the diagnosis just hours before tipoff of the Blazers’ game against the Orlando Magic.

Trail Blazers likely to be without Anfernee Simons until at least December

The one player Portland couldn’t afford to lose this season was Simons. He was projected to take over the majority of the team’s scoring load while helping ease the burden for rookie Scoot Henderson, who struggled mightily in his first NBA action.

The 24-year-old Simons injured his thumb at some point during the Blazers’ season-opener against the LA Clippers. He scored 18 points in a little more than 27 minutes in the 123-111 loss.

The expectation is that Simons will miss four to six weeks, but as Portland is in no hurry to rush its rebuild and seems content to aim for another high draft pick, it’s safe to assume he won’t return until the latter end of that timetable.

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Presumably, Simons’ spot in the starting lineup will be filled by 20-year-old Shaedon Sharpe, but veteran Malcolm Brogdon is another option for head coach Chauncey Billups.