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Anfernee Simons Looks Good, Still Adjusting

The reserve guard is still mastering his role in Portland.

Charlotte Hornets v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images

It’s Christmas weekend, Portland Trail Blazers fans! Amid our other posts, we’re going to throw in some free stocking stuffers: mini-Mailbags with questions that require only a short response! Think of them as snack-sized versions of your usual Blazer’s Edge Mailbag.

Our first question regards everybody’s favorite supersub.

Hey Dave,

Anfernee Simons started the season good but he’s not doing as well lately I think. Is he really all that or should we be looking to trade him before the summer?

Devin

Whether the Blazers look to trade Simons depends as much on their willingness to pay him next year and/or his trade value in February as it does on his performance in the first third of the season.

I can see where your impression comes from. Simons has had a rough December, that coming just when the Blazers need him most. Eight of his ten highest-minute games have come since November 26th. So have five of his twelve single-digit scoring performances. (And he didn’t play in three other December games.) BUT... Simons has scored 19 or more points five times this season. Four of those happened in the last month too.

It’d be more accurate to describe Simons as up and down, based on opponent and role, than slumping. He’s shooting 43% from the field this year, the best since his rookie season (when he barely played, comparatively). His 37.9% clip from the arc doesn’t match his astonishing 42.6% mark from last year, but it’s better than he was doing early in the season and it’s the second-highest mark of his career.

Here’s the thing with Simons. He’s a decent player, always an offensive threat, but the ability to score quickly is the characteristic that differentiates him. You’ve seen the lightning catch-and-shoot threes from the diagonals. You’ve also seen juke moves get him free for the pull up, occasionally a slam. Those plays transform him from mortal into WOW.

He’s not getting enough of those. They come under two conditions: when he’s the shooting guard or when he’s the ONLY scoring point guard, free to take whatever shots he wishes without thinking. The Blazers have tried to form him into a more conventional play-runner this year. He’s not doing poorly, but point guards are supposed to embody thought, not transcend it. They’re also supposed to set up the offense, not co-opt it. Adjusting to that role, and its strictures, will take time for Simons.

Simons’ progress remains decent and the hopes for his future high. Don’t give up on him just yet.

You can send your own questions to the Mailbag at blazersub@gmail.com!