The Trail Blazers offseason is upon us, and the 2018 NBA Draft will provide Portland with an opportunity to supplement its roster with a talented youngster. With only the No. 24 pick at their disposal on draft night, the Blazers will look to thread the needle by finding an NBA-worthy prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Today’s profile will focus IMG Academy’s talented guard Anfernee Simons.
- Height: 6’3”
- Weight: 183
- Wingspan: 6’9”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: PG/SG
- Age: 19
- Projected draft range: 19-34
- PPG: 22.4
- RPG: 6.7
- APG: 3.1
- FG%: 54.0
- 3P%: 45.0
*Stats from IMG Academy Postgrad National Team’s 31 games
Given Simons’ limited exposure, it is tough to get an accurate feel for his skills against top-level competition. What is clear, though, is Simons’ multi-faceted offensive attack. He’s an accurate three-point shooter and a powerful above-the-rim finisher in the paint. His powerful dunking ability takes center stage in transition. When he isn’t rattling the rim in the open court, the 19-year-old guard creates his own looks at all three levels. Defensively, Simons’ superb wingspan will give him positional versatility once he adds weight.
Wingspan aside, Simons’ lack of bulk will hinder keep him from competing for significant minutes as rookie. Despite playing against excellent prep players, the Florida native will experience a significant learning curve when facing NBA players. Offensively, Simons will have to adapt his shot to tighter defenses. Even with an excellent pull-up jumper, he will likely have to raise his release point in order to remain dangerous while covered. On top of his shot mechanics, Simons must do a better job avoiding trouble when operating as the primary facilitator. If his navigation issues persist on offense, the 19-year-old guard’s too-evident turnover troubles will follow him to the NBA.
Simons capped off a successful high school career with an additional year at IMG Academy last year. After originally committing to Louisville, the talented guard decided to go straight to the NBA after the Cardinals’ program struggled with scandals. Simons was invited to participate in the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit, but elected to skip both events to avoid complicating his draft stock.
Simons’ ceiling as an offensive threat is welcoming to prospective suitors, but it will take patience from his future team in order for him to reach it. He will have to adapt to the speed and physicality of the NBA in order for him to produce consistently. Off the court, Simons’ unusual journey to becoming a professional might raise eyebrows. There’s a fine line between skipping events to avoid injury and withdrawing from competitions to avoid exposing potential weaknesses.
If Portland’s goal is build a strong supporting cast while Damian Lillard is in his prime, Simons might not be the best fit. Despite those reservations, the Blazers have already been linked to Simons. According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, Portland has expressed interest in the 19-year-old guard after hosting him for a workout.
Anfernee Simons is getting some first round buzz: The Blazers and Lakers are interested in the late first, per sources. Heard Simons also impressed at a workout on Wednesday with the Cavs. Simons is raw but projects as an athletic scoring guard with size: https://t.co/MMsjLxHu0W— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 15, 2018
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—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com