Now a month into the NBA regular season, the Trail Blazers unexpectedly slow start has left them with work to do. Despite a 4-8 start, putting the Blazers near the bottom of a stacked Western Conference, there has undoubtedly been a bright spot: 20-year-old guard Anfernee Simons.
Averaging 11.8 points and 1.8 rebounds through 12 games, Simons’ earlier-than-expected offense has provided the Blazers with a beacon of hope. On Friday, he received national attention from ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who listed him as one of the 10 things that he likes in the NBA this week.
Simons is starting to happen. He is shooting 38% from deep, and working a jitterbug pick-and-roll game. The injury-ravaged Blazers have played heavy minutes with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Simons all on the floor. Portland is plus-25 in 74 such minutes.
In his column, Lowe discussed how Simons’ promising start in relation to Portland’s slow start may impact the Blazers’ bigger picture. Following the signing of Carmelo Anthony to a non-guaranteed deal, Lowe suggests that the Blazers may have more decisions to make before the trade deadline.
It’s tempting to conclude Simons’ emergence might push Portland to finally investigate the market for McCollum. But Simons has barely played. He’s 20! Portland made no secret of its championship ambitions. Dealing McCollum to go younger imperils present-day championship ambitions.
Now embarking on a six-game road trip, the Blazers will need Simons to continue his upward trend if they plan to climb back into the upper-echelon of the Western Conference. It starts today when the Blazers take on the San Antonio Spurs.
You can read the rest of Lowe’s column at ESPN.