Amidst all of the missing players due to injury and health and safety protocol, several ‘behind the curtain’ athletes have emerged. The one I’d like to talk about today is Anfernee Simons. I noticed the young player in the middle of last year. The coaching staff was beginning to give him adequate playing time, and he was delivering in the limited minutes he received. In 17.3 MPG, he averaged 7.8 PPG while shooting nearly 42.6% from three. I thought of him as a solid player at the time but didn’t see him fitting in well with Gary Trent Jr., who was the backup to CJ McCollum. They co-existed decently, but the flow was never quite there on offense, it was almost like Simons couldn’t be himself.
With Lillard and McCollum both out the past several games, Simons has been let free. He can play his own game now at his pace.
The Last 5 Games
- 28 PTS, 7 AST, 52.9 FG%, 50 3P%
- 14 PTS, 7 AST
- 31 PTS, 6 AST, 58.8 FG%, 63.6 3P%
- 23 PTS, 11 AST
- 31 PTS, 11 AST, 52.4 FG%, 50 3P%
Simons is currently the focal point of the Trailblazers offense, as nearly everything runs through him. The coaching staff is running him through a lot of pick-and-roll situations with Jusuf Nurkic, which then allows Simons to make the read himself. Well, he’s been excellent at making that read, and teams are having a tough time guarding it. Simons is a prolific three-point scorer who can also nail floaters at a 53% clip. It’s also difficult to block Simons’ floaters because of his elevation. Remember, this guy won the dunk contest last year, he’s got bounce. Although McCollum may be returning to the court today, Lillard remains out indefinitely. Therefore, there is still plenty of time for Portland’s Simons/Nassir Little duo.
As for the state of the entire team, now is not the time to trade Damian Lillard. He’s injured, and it is highly suspected that he won’t play another game this season. Lillard’s trade value is at its lowest right now, so, at best, the organization would have to wait until he is healthy again to begin trade talks. However, something big needs to be moved, whether that’s Lillard or McCollum. Lillard will turn 32 before the start of next season and McCollum will be 31. The franchise needs to think about life beyond these two stars. You trade away one of them as they are performing well for a couple of solid players and a lump of picks, and obviously, the package will differ between the two. My point is, the Blazers can’t keep holding back, they need to make a move and break things up. The problem wasn’t Terry Stotts, it’s the makeup of the team, they’re just not good enough. If this team wants to be good enough, they’ll need to ship away something precious.