Anfernee Simons Isn’t the Trail Blazers’ Problem

With the Portland Trail Blazers in a free fall, having misplaced 8 of their final 10 video games, guard Anfernee Simons is taking part in Caesar amongst a Senate of Portland followers. Aside from Damian Lillard, who has been injured sufficient to look in solely 11 of Portland’s 22 outings to this point, Simons is the workforce’s main scorer at 23.8 factors per recreation. His capturing percentages have fallen to 42.8% from the area and 38.0% from the three-point arc, however these numbers are greater than acceptable from a volume-scoring guard. Still, the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag is more and more populated with submissions like this.

Dave,

I’m getting sick of watching Anfernee Simons play. This is meant to be a workforce. Do you assume beginning has gone to his head? He took a step ahead final yr and that is tremendous, however there was no person else taking part in then. In my eyes he is completely didn’t adapt to having teammates who can rating too. I’m bored with one individual scoring whereas everybody else watches. I’m afraid we’re doomed to extra of what we have had with Dame and CJ with only a new identify on the uniform as an alternative. He scores so much. Is it time to commerce?

Aiden

Do you bear in mind when everyone was selecting on Britney Spears and certainly one of her followers simply misplaced it on video, crying out, “Leave Britney alone!” I really feel like that fan proper now, with Anfernee Simons as an alternative. Leave Ant alone, y’all. It’s not him.

Simons is not scoring as an alternative of everyone else. Lillard is averaging 26.3 ppg taking part in alongside Simons. Jeremy Grant scores 22.2. The Blazers have by no means had a trio common over 20 for a season. Something tells me they will not this yr both, however for now, there is no motive to complain about scoring except you need to argue that Jusuf Nurkic must be a much bigger a part of the offense. Some nights that is true, however most nights, not.

The workforce’s per-minute scoring distribution is a bit more top-heavy than it was again in 2019-20 or 2018-19—the final time the Blazers fielded viable groups—however not radically so.

I do not assume this workforce would have gained extra of the final 10 video games had Simons given up extra pictures to different gamers. Grant has been scoring big-time throughout that stretch. I’m undecided force-feeding Josh Hart or Justise Winslow turns round the recreation, not to mention the final result.

And therein lies the coronary heart of the matter…one thing I’ve stated a pair instances now and can repeat as soon as extra. The Blazers didn’t lose to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night time as a result of Anfernee Simons scored 37 factors on 24 pictures, capturing 55% from the area and the arc. They misplaced as a result of, in the crucial moments of the recreation, he was the solely scorer on the ground. Nor did the Blazers lose to the Los Angeles Lakers final night time as a result of Simons put up a much less environment friendly 22 factors on 22 pictures, capturing solely 2-7 from distance. They misplaced as a result of they did not have 40% of their beginning lineup, could not defend LA’s large superstars, and did not have sufficient velocity to stretch the protection to the arc, the place the Lakers shot surprisingly nicely. Redistributing 5 of Simons’ shot makes an attempt would not have taken care of that.

Damian Lillard is out. That’s an enormous motive the Blazers are struggling proper now. And that is not even counting each time certainly one of their forwards will get banged up, or in foul bother, or is pressured to play out of place at heart or guard.

Over the final six video games, in Lillard’s absence, Simons has scored 29, 20, 38, 15, 37, and 22 for a median of 26.8 factors per recreation. He’s a 23-year-old guard in his first tour of obligation as a official starter, carrying the workforce as the primary choice as a result of the man who was presupposed to do it could possibly’t proper now.

What the hippie-hopping heck would you like from him?

Maybe… and it stays to be seen, however possibly… the Blazers are nonetheless constructed sub-optimally, with two non-defensive scorers at the guard spots. Maybe they will hit the similar ceiling they did when CJ McCollum was beginning. But even when so, that is it not Simons’ fault. He’s not the General Manager. All he can do is go on the market, rating, and draw defensive consideration away from his teammates by doing so. If you assume he isn’t doing a superlative job of that, I do not know the way that will help you.

Yes, there are bumps. I do not know a participant in Simons’ state of affairs that would not have them. I additionally do not know many with that lightning-quick launch from the arc, lethal accuracy, and the potential to attain in sufficiently big drives to show any recreation round. Everything in the world is targeted on this man proper now and he is nonetheless producing. To me, that is all you’ll be able to ask.

If Jerami Grant needed to shoulder the similar load as a result of Simons was injured alongside Lillard, I do not imagine Grant might do any higher. Probably not as nicely, the truth is. And Grant has been certainly one of the shining stars of the season.

The hole between Simons’ manufacturing and workforce outcomes is actual proper now, however that is not right down to Anfernee. He’s a high-horsepower engine partially disconnected from the drive prepare. The answer is to not ditch the motor, and even to take the foot off the fuel. Improve the system and you are going to enhance the outcomes.

That’s to not say Simons ought to stay with the workforce ceaselessly. In some methods he’s redundant. We’ve talked about these earlier than and can once more. But this right here, proper now? This is Anfernee Simons taking part in in addition to might be anticipated in the center of a fairly nasty storm. Given his age and expertise, that is to be praised, not condemned.

Thanks for the query! Y’all can ship yours to blazersub@gmail.com anytime!

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