The Trail Blazers used the No. 24 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft to select promising 19-year-old guard Anfernee Simons. Portland already has an established backcourt, but that doesn’t mean that Simons won’t infuse the current rotation with offensive talent. Simons elected to go straight to the NBA instead of playing at Louisville next season, which has limited his exposure to most basketball fans.
In an attempt to get a better idea about what Simons will bring to the Blazers, we asked Brian Freeman and Steve Dewald to share their thoughts on his fit.
What are your initial thoughts on Portland’s decision to draft Simons?
Steve: I wanted Portland to take Robert Williams last year before he withdrew, so I wasn’t pleased when the big fella was still on the board when Simons was picked.
Brian: I had a list of about 5 guys I wanted and Simons was not on the list. (Williams was) After the pick, my wife looked at my face asked me if I was mad. I was more confused and unsure what to think because he’s such an unknown.
How much of an effect will Simons have in his rookie year?
Brian: I predict he’ll have a huge effect on his team his rookie year. I wonder which G-League squad will get him.
Steve: I don’t have major expectations, mainly because coach Terry Stotts rarely plays rookies meaningful minutes. Most of Simons’ strides will likely occur behind the scenes. Minus Lillard, Portland’s staff has exercised patience in the past when developing guards.
How do you like his fit with the Blazers?
Brian: He doesnt fit Dame’s timeline. I am not sure what effect this has on the future of Napier, but at least Portland didnt add another big!
Steve: Like Brian mentioned, I really question his ability to impact Lillard’s prime years. If the plan was to develop him in the G-League, you would think the Blazers would have pinned down an affiliate in the lower league. Without a G-League affiliate, the Blazers will be at the mercy of the assignment process when they are trying to get Simons more minutes.
1-10 How excited are you for this pick?
Steve: 5. I can be swayed either way with Simons. If he ends up being a lottery-level talent, the Blazers will look incredibly smart with this selection. If Simons flops, they will be grilled for selecting a prep player.
Brian: 4. Portland could have drafted a bad player. So it could be worse. Simons has the potential to be really good. But potential to be good also means he’s not good yet.
Do you think Portland got good value at this pick?
Brian: At 24, I like the thought of swinging for the fence on potential so I understand the thought process. Hopefully he turns out to be a homerun but Portland needed to get better if they were going to compete and this wasnt a step in that direction
Steve: I don’t have the information that the Blazers had internally, so it is tough to judge. I just felt like Portland could have traded down to get Simons. A more proven prospect at pick No. 24 would have been better in my opinion.
Ok let’s hear your breakdown.
Brian: He’s an interesting pick. First off, he didn't play in a top European league and he didn't play in college. He played at a prep school last year so it’s hard to say what he’s capable of it. He’s a shooter with NBA athletic ability, but he has a very young body and is beyond unproven. He was much better than the prep kids he played against but that means next to nothing when compared to NBA level talent. He’s one of the few players we were not able to watch a lot of film on so I’m not sure how to feel. He’s a good shooter at 18, which is rare, so that is a great sign for his potential.
Dave Deckard: Butting into your analysis to ask if it worries you that the release on his jumper is so low that he’d get capped by two Oompah-Loompahs and the Lollipop Guild?
Brian: Ha it is very low. But raising a release point is not one of the more difficult parts of changing a shot. If the rhythm is there and the release is there, an adjustment like release point can be fixed in a summer if enough time is put into it. Hopefully Portland just drafted a guy that can put in the work to make the adjustment
If Simons did what he did on offense last season against NCAA competition, he would likely be a lottery pick. That sounds inviting, but there are serious caveats with that line of thinking. Simons thrived against prep competition at IMG Academy, but it is hard to put stock in those boxscores.
While Simons’ ability to impact Portland’s win total as a rookie is debatable, I’m not completely panicked. I don’t think he will be handed the keys to the offense anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be able to contribute in other areas. His ability to shoot from distance and make dynamic plays in transition should translate to the NBA. The biggest question for me with Simons’ ability to play competent defense.
After taking a closer look, how do you feel about Portland’s newest guard? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com
—Brian / @BrianFreeman24