Recently, Portland Trail Blazers’ guard Anfernee Simons has been on a tear, and other teams are starting to take note. Simons is a restricted free agent this summer, and Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report states that due to Simons’ increased role and production, he is a “medium flight risk” for free agency.
Since Damian Lillard left the rotation with an injury, Simons has put up 23.3 points, 6.1 assists and 4.4 threes, while shooting 41.5 percent from three. In the same stretch, he’s making 2.0 pull-up triples while shooting 37.3 percent on that specific shot type.
That’s wild production from anyone, but it’s especially intriguing from a 22-year old.
A player who can create both for himself and others is valuable in today’s NBA, and Simons is showing exactly that kind of modern lead guard skill set. Someone other than the Portland Trail Blazers is going to be interested in adding that.
And though restricted free agency affords Portland the opportunity to match any offer sheet Simons signs, it’s fair to wonder if the Blazers want to run it back with another undersized backcourt mate.
Bailey contends that the Blazers may not be willing to keep Simons alongside Lillard, due to the resemblance to CJ McCollum in size.
Lillard made it to a conference finals with CJ McCollum, but the lack of size and defense between those two made it difficult to take them seriously as contenders. Signing Simons as the long-term answer at the 2 would create a lot of the same difficulties.
And if Lillard is on board for a rebuild, he probably wants to see one that’s tailored more to his strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, Portland would surround him with bigger, more versatile wings (though that’s easier said than done).
Still, the Blazers probably can’t just let Simons walk for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, he looks really good. And questions of fit aside, talent is talent. Second, it’s rarely a great idea to let a free agent walk for nothing.
Even if the pairing with Lillard doesn’t really work, Portland could re-sign Simons and trade him some time later.
No disrespect to McCollum or Bailey’s take, but as our own Dan Marang likes to point out: there is a key difference in that Simons knows how to run.
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