Anfernee Simons is getting his first exposure to the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers in Summer League. Some doubted the competition Simons played while at IMG Academy, but in the Las Vegas tournament he’ll be exposed to top picks and veterans hoping to get a shot in the NBA.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel caught up with the Florida product after his first Summer League game, starting with an anecdote from a dunk he had in Portland’s win over the Jazz:
Simons’ slam merited extra emphasis from the public-address announcer. Just one problem: The PA guy screwed up Simons’ first and last names.
Welcome to the NBA, rook.
“By now, I’m used to it,” Simons said afterward, a big smile on his face. “Nobody knows how to say it.”
The rookie had typical first-game jitters, but his first bucket helped calm them:
“I was a little nervous, but I wasn’t as nervous as usual, though,” Simons said. “Usually, I get really nervous before games and kind of rush everything. But once I got that first little floater I got in, I knew I was fine.”
Portland’s Summer League head coach, Jim Moran, stressed the importance of not putting pressure on the 19-year-old guard:
“We just want him to get his feet wet and develop habits,” Moran said, referring to Simons. “For a guy like him, it’s about habits. So we’re going to be on him about playing hard, working hard, hard cuts. It’s just the little things from him right now. That’s all we really expect.”
Simons was even seen getting tips from Blazers star Damian Lillard:
Damian Lillard coaching up the @trailblazers rookie Anfernee Simons at @NBASummerLeague. #ThisIsWhyWePlay pic.twitter.com/ImvCoKy7aE— NBA (@NBA) July 7, 2018
Make sure to read thoughts from Steve Dewald and Brian Freeman, who are in Vegas, on Portland’s first Summer League game here.
And you can read more of Robbins’ piece on Simons here.