Anfernee Simons has replaced Damian Lillard in one unexpected way for the Blazers

No one will be Dame, but Ant has been better than anticipated for Portland in one critical area.

Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

One of the everlasting moments of Damian Lillard's tenure with the Portland Trail Blazers will be his 37-foot step-back three over Paul George that eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder from the 2019 playoffs. There's a reason he's earned the nickname "Dame Time." In end-of-game scenarios, few players in NBA history are as clutch as Lillard.

It's admittedly far down the list, but that was one of the things Portland lost when it traded its franchise point guard to the Milwaukee Bucks before the season - someone to give the ball to with confidence in the final seconds of a close game.

But maybe the Blazers didn't lose as much in the clutch when the clock struck midnight on Dame Time.

Trail Blazers Anfernee Simons has been one of the most clutch guards in the NBA this season

To be clear, Anfernee Simons is not Damian Lillard and certainly doesn't have the track record. But a look at this season's statistics shows that Ant has been one of the most clutch backcourt players in the league.

Per, "clutch" time is defined as the final five minutes of a game when a team is ahead or behind by five points. The Trail Blazers have been in such situations 16 times this season and Simons has played 4.2 clutch minutes, tied for seventh-most in the league among all qualifying guards.

Of those guards, Ant is tied for second in points scored (4.3) behind only Stephen Curry; shooting 55.8 percent, good for ninth despite taking the third-most shots (2.7); shooting 42.9 percent from three and ranking ahead of players like Tyrese Haliburton, Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson in attempts; and is shooting 93.3 percent from the free-throw line.


Dame Time is gone. But Simons has done an unexpectedly fantastic job taking over as the Blazers' go-to option with the game on the line.