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Blazers Coach Chauncey Billups talks Anfernee Simons and ‘Playing Simple’

Simplifying the game allowed the Blazers to beat the Hawks Monday night.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 129-125 on Monday night, behind 42 points from point guard Damian Lillard.

It was Portland’s first single-digit victory since December 10, and a welcome change as the team has struggled to finish strong in close games.

But although it was Lillard’s night on the scoreboard, it was Anfernee Simons who interested reporters after the game. Simons buried five of eight threes and tallied seven assists, his highest assist total since notching nine against the Utah Jazz just last week.

Trail Blazers head coach Chauncy Billups explained that he and Simons have discussed making the simple play, and how that has benefited him on the court.

What is different lately about Anfernee’s playmaking. He’s getting a lot of assists lately. What are you seeing from that?

I think he’s just making the simple play. He drives and there’s a guy in front of him, the guy that’s open, just make that play. As opposed to worrying about reading the defense and maybe getting the assist, I think he’s just simplified his game. He’s just making the simple play.

Is that something you were stressing to him?

Yeah, it’s something that we been talking about, he and I. Because I know how – as a young player – I know how fast the game can be moving. I explained to him one time I had a really bad habit, when I was a rookie, of driving and jumping in the air and passing and turning it over all the time. And the way that I best worked on that was just as soon as I seen the open guy, I just passed it to him. And that actually made the offense flow better, it made the plays flow better, and then I stopped turning the ball over. So, I shared that with him and I think he’s doing a really good job of just playing simple.

Simons’ playmaking has had a positive impact for the team, and his statistics of late are well above his season average of four assists per game.