Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons has been on a tear in his fourth NBA season.
His trajectory this season has led him to new heights and made him the favorite to become the league’s Most Improved Player of the Year.
Still just 22 years old, Simons is expected to make a big payday this offseason and warranting All-Star caliber money.
But the question with Simons is when will he officially become an All-Star?
The Blazer’s Edge staff gathered together to answer the question and provide their insight:
Jeremy Brener: Simons has been so fun to watch this season. He already has a Dunk Contest trophy sitting at home and his electricity on the court will get him to the main event in due time.
The West is stacked with point guards, but we saw the likes of Dejounte Murray and Fred VanVleet make the All-Star Game this past year, proving you don’t need to be in the NBA’s top tier of guards and in a large market to crash the party.
If he continues along the path he’s going, Simons should be an All-Star by 2025, just before his 26th birthday.
Conor Bergin: When Simons is in his prime at the back-half of his 20s, I have little doubt he will be an NBA All-Star.
I think a more debatable question is will Simons put up good enough numbers to make an All-Star team during the next two seasons — when he’s still second lead guard alongside Damian Lillard and hasn’t tapped into all of his potential? CJ McCollum put up great numbers as Dame’s second fiddle for the better part of a decade, but he never made an All-Star team. What makes Simons different?
For starters, Simons’ athleticism and ability to play above the rim at 6’4’’ unlocks doors for his game that McCollum could never open — particularly when it comes to getting to the foul line. McCollum’s best scoring year in Portland came last season, when he averaged 23.1 points and 2.8 free three attempts per game at 29. Compared to shooting guards who made the All-Star team that season, McCollum ranked last in both those categories. His reliance on floaters and midrange jumpers has largely kept him from earning more points at the line and sustaining a more elite level of production.
Simons, on the other hand, has averaged 3.1 free throw attempts per game since January. It’s not a mind-boggling number, but at 22, he’s already at McCollum’s level. As he bulks up, learns to draw more contact, and receives more respect from referees, Simons should be able to get into the lane and generate more free throws. His speed and aerial finishing ability should also translate to more easy points in transition. These are sustainable, efficient ways to boost scoring production for somebody who’s already a great volume three-point shooter.
A season of averaging at least 25 points and five assists per game should be enough to give him an All-Star nod. After one more year of development, I put my money on Simons getting the invite during the 2023-2024 season at 24.
Marlow Ferguson Jr.: Simons strikes me as the type of player that will be capable of putting up All-Star-type numbers, but putting a number on the distinction is a tough one. It wasn’t too long ago that our very own Damian Lillard averaged 26.0 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.5 rebounds on 43-37-89 percentage splits, and went accolade-less over a two-year stretch.
And it isn’t as though there’s been any kind of drop-off in talent among Western Conference guards. As of now, it looks like the Simons will be positioned to co-star with Lillard in that backcourt in the future. Given Portland’s small market, it’s essentially a guarantee that the Blazers will need to be a title contender for Simons to join his perennial All-Star teammate. In the years in which the Blazers have had multiple All-Stars since the 1990s, here’s where they ranked at the break: No. 3 in West (2014-15), No. 4 (2013-14), No. 6 (1993-94), No. 5 (1992-93), and No. 1 (1990-91). Putting a year to it, the 2025 or 2026 All-Star Game feels like an ideal spot.
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