With Damian Lillard out for an unspecified length of time, Portland Trail Blazers’ guard Anfernee Simons has been elevated in his absence, and he is using the most of his opportunity. According to Nekias Duncan of BasketballNews.com, the numbers are looking good.
It isn’t supposed to be like this, this soon. But the circumstances are the circumstances. Luckily for Portland, Simons appears to be more scalable than advertised.
Simons has started eight games now, including all five games the Blazers have played in 2022. He’s been pretty darn good.
Starter numbers: 20.9 points (58/41/96 split), 3.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists (2.1 turnovers) in 32.4 minutes
2022 stats: 27.8 points (61/45/95 split), 3.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists (2.8 turnovers) in 37.0 minutes
There’s no doubt that Simons has been fun to watch in recent games, and his threes are a huge part of why.
The three-ball remains his most powerful weapon, though he’s forced to get those looks in a more difficult fashion. On the season, Simons is averaging more catch-and-shoot triples (3.4) than off-the-dribble bombs (2.7). Over the last five games, that story has flipped — of the 11.2 threes he’s attempting, 6.2 of them have been off the bounce.
Only three players (Fred VanVleet, Trae Young, Donovan Mitchell) are taking more pull-up threes per contest than Simons in 2022; none of them are doing it at better efficiency than Simons (41.2% on those shots). It’s a 10-day sample, of course, but even this snapshot of high-volume pulling should be respected.
And of course, his mentor has noticed.