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Anfernee Simons Excited About the Blazers’ New Rookie, Nassir Little

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Blazer’s Edge contributor Steve Dewald spoke with Anfernee Simons after the Trail Blazers selected Nassir Little.

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Freshly drafted forward Nassir Little will join Anfernee Simons on the Trail Blazers to form a young duo comprised of Florida natives. Simons, who President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey graciously listed as the most naturally gifted player he has drafted, is eager for Little to arrive.

In a conversation following Thursday’s draft-night festivities, Simons told Blazer’s Edge contributor Steve Dewald that he was anxiously watching Little’s slide down the draft board just like everyone else.

“Everybody said he was a lottery pick,” Simons told Blazer’s Edge. “I thought he was going to go in the lottery for sure. He was talented enough to go in the lottery, and it kind of shocked me that he dropped that low.”

When it appeared that Little might land in the Blazers’ range at pick No. 25, Simons started to intently follow the action that was unfolding. “When they [the Blazers] stuck with our pick, I got a little anxious. Then I saw Woj tweet that they were going to pick Nassir, I was like ‘oh snap.’” Simons continued, “It shocked me that we picked him. It was a good feeling. Someone else in the league from the same place [Orlando] getting picked up on the same team.”

Little is poised to give the Blazers’ young core a boost. Simons detailed how he views Little’s skill set: “I think he’s a good two-way player. He can defend really well, he can rebound, and he’s very scrappy. I think he’ll be a guy that can play defense and knock down open shots.”

Prior to the draft, Little and Simons crossed paths during one of Chris Brickley’s scrimmage sessions. According to Simons, Little has gotten better at spacing the floor since they last faced each other. “His shooting has improved. I noticed that when we played—he shoots the ball really well now.”

In regards to the Blazers’ chances of repeating as Summer League Champions, Simons told Blazer’s Edge that he likes how Little fits on the roster. “Adding him was a big piece for us. We are going to be running a lot. Obviously we have a lot of athleticism—guys who can catch lobs. The offense is like ours, so I know what it is. There is a lot of backdoors and a lot of movement. I feel like he’s going to thrive in that [offense].”

Reflecting on his own emotions on draft night, Simons explained that he is going to give Little time to process the events that unfolded. “I’m going to reach out to him tomorrow—let all the dust settle. It’s a crazy night for him.”

Featuring Simons and Little, the Blazers will start their Summer League schedule when the event begins on July 5.