I have no hesitation in saying that Anfernee Simons is the second-most exciting player for the Portland Trail Blazers this season, and it’s probably not that close. Simons’ last week or so of games has especially showcased why the 20-year-old point guard is so tantalizing.
Simons has provided a scoring spark when needed and stepped up down the stretch of games. It’s no coincidence that he’s found himself in the lineup to close fourth quarters; he’s earned those minutes. Let’s recap Simons’ mini-breakout this past week.
11/2 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
To start off his week, Simons had a game-winner ripped away from him. It started with Damian Lillard’s last-second rim attack that drew all kinds of help from the 76ers’ defenders, allowing Simons to get open in the corner for the go-ahead three-pointer:
Anfernee Simons. CLUTCH. pic.twitter.com/ZRlOtxrl0z— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 3, 2019
Then, Furkan Korkmaz came in and turned a would-be win into a loss for Portland, but the moment was still big. There was something poetic about the current franchise star passing off the would-be game-winning shot to his expected protege.
11/7 vs Los Angeles Clippers
Simons had a rough first three quarters, totaling just one point heading into the fourth. Then, Mt. Simons erupted, scorching the Clippers’ defense for 16 points in the final frame. Simons even scored Portland’s first 12 points to the begin the fourth; it wasn’t until the 6:28 mark that a Blazer not named Simons scored.
The 20-year-old guard singlehandedly maintained Portland’s slight lead, no easy task against a defense as menacing as the Clippers’.
11/8 vs. Brooklyn Nets
Simons was a main component of the Blazers’ rotation throughout the night, playing a starter-level amount of minutes with 36. The young guard showcased some alley-oop chemistry with Lillard and made a highlight drive-and-dish, but what impressed me was that Simons took on the matchup with Kyrie Irving in the game’s closing moments:
Simons didn’t get the stop, but that’s more of a credit to Irving’s superb shot-making. It was notable to see Simons in that position instead of Kent Bazemore, who was on the perimeter. The young guard held his own on defense against an All-Star, and that’s all Portland can ask right now.
11/10 vs. Atlanta Hawks
Simons notched his season-high for points with 20. His high point total also came with impressive efficiency, shooting 8-12 from the field and 3-5 from deep. The third quarter featured another outburst in quick fashion: five field goals, including two 3’s, in only 3 minutes and 22 seconds.
Simons said to Jason Quick after getting drafted, “I feel like once they see me play, they will know it wasn’t a wasted pick.’’ His past week might be the perfect sampling to prove that point: During the five games between 11/2 and 11/10, he averaged 15.8 points off the bench on 51.5% shooting from the field and 43.8% from deep.
Those gaudy shooting numbers likely won’t last over a full season as more teams make him a priority on their scouting reports. But Simons has certainly made his talents known, going beyond the hype and showcasing what he can bring to the team, which is both scoring and excitement.