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Blazers’ Anfernee Simons Has Cultivated Confidence With Teammates, Coaches

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The Ringer’s Paolo Uggetti delivered an in-depth look at Anfernee Simons’ burgeoning role with the Trail Blazers.

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - Portland Trail Blazers v Utah Jazz Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Anfernee SimonsLas Vegas Summer League stint with the Trail Blazers might have been reduced to three outings, but that didn’t prevent the former IMG Academy star from making a big impression. On Wednesday, The Ringer’s Paolo Uggetti released an in-depth look at Simons’ burgeoning role in Portland’s future.

When explaining how he approached his first year in the NBA, Simons told Uggetti that he focused on learning from Damian Lillard’s approach.

“I was just trying to learn by watching [Lillard] and seeing how he plays against teams trying to scheme against him and take him out of the game,” Simons said. “How he picks apart the defenses and is able to score at every level.”

Uggetti also spoke with Simons’ trainer, Justin Zormelo. Zormelo, who specializes in prep-to-pro prospects, explained that he knew Simons was destined for big things in the NBA.

“I told every GM and coach and scout I saw that you better take this kid in the lottery,” Zormelo said. “We held private workouts for four days, and he went insane. I don’t know how he slipped.” According to the front office talent evaluator, teams saw the shooting ability but were worried about whether his lithe frame could hold up. The Blazers saw enough to take the risk other teams passed on. They even gave Simons a promise—he worked out with Portland a second time and then canceled a workout in Memphis as a result.

Along with the information gleaned from Zormelo, Uggetti’s anonymous front office talent evaluator revealed that the Blazers gave Simons a promise prior to draft night.

With a full year inside the Blazers’ organization under his belt, Simons is poised to deliver results in his second season. When assistant coach Nate Tibbetts was asked about Simons’ attitude, he explained that he is upbeat about the young guard’s outlook.

Now the mystery has turned into anticipation—especially from the Blazers’ staff. With Turner and Seth Curry gone, there are minutes available for a ball handler off the bench who can give Lillard or McCollum a rest. Tibbetts said Simons will spend some time off the ball too. “The great thing about him is that whatever role he gets, he’s going to accept,” Tibbetts said.

You can read Uggetti’s full feature at The Ringer.