Trail Blazers fans know the athleticism, raw offensive talent, and high-flying dunk capabilities that second-year guard Anfernee Simons brings.
This is a young man who can score-- There’s no doubt about that.
A recent social media post from an account dubbed ‘Timeout’ made the rounds on Instagram and Twitter saying that Simons could be the best-kept secret.
Anthony Simons pic.twitter.com/ksYBENanTU— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) July 13, 2020
Well, Anthony Simons is indeed a secret.
But for Anfrenee Simons, he knows what he can bring to the Blazers. He is using this restart to get better and continue to learn from the Trail Blazers backcourt star duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
In his first media interview since the resumption of the 2019-20 season, the 21-year-old shared his personal goals for the restart during a Zoom call Tuesday.
“I think I’m in pretty good shape,” Simons said. “I think we did a good job of individual workouts and kind of getting our conditioning up and obviously the first couple of practices helped out a lot with my conditioning... I’m just taking this as a good opportunity to get better. Come into practice and compete against Dame and CJ. Challenge them and help them challenge me as well. I’m coming in trying to work on different aspects of my game that will help the team win in different situations.”
[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon].
As NBA Fans around the world learn more about Ant, Trail Blazers fans have already had a glimpse at the future of the Trail Blazers.
April 10, 2019 was a breakout game the Trail Blazers knew was in their rookie all along. Simons notched a career-high in all three major categories. He finished with 37 points, nine assists, and six rebounds .
It was the then 19-year-old who led the Blazers to a thrilling 136-131 comeback win over the Kings after being down by as many as 28 points.
Simons’ fellow rookie Gary Trent Jr. added 19 points on 8-of-19 shooting.
Now, as the two work on their game in the Orlando bubble together, Trent Jr. shared some insight on Simons’ character.
“Ant’s a great player. He’s a hard worker. Any time he’s on the floor, any shot he shoots I think is going in. I work with him day in and day out. Like you said, we were rookies together, so I’ve seen his work ethic from day one. He’s a hard worker. He’s gonna come in and prove himself… So, if he does have a big game, I’m not surprised at all… He works on his craft,” Trent Jr. said.
Both Trent Jr. and Simons could see extra minutes coming their way now that the Trail Blazers are without small forward Trevor Ariza.
“I think the biggest thing is with Trevor being out, that opens up perimeter minutes,” Blazers Coach Terry Stotts said Tuesday.
Coach Stotts, who keeps the Blazers rotation close to the vest, will look like along with expected minutes for each player close to the vest, added that he is reluctant to say that Simons will get be one of those players to earn extra minutes, but Stotts did say, “There’s going to be opportunity for someone, whether it’s Ant, Gary, Mario [Hezonja], for those minutes to be taken advantage of.”
But at the same time:
Perimeter minutes may be hard to come by.
“I’m approaching this as every game is a playoff game, a must win game. The rotation will be a little shorter. I think Dame and CJ’s minutes will be extended, so that kind of takes away from some of the opportunities that are gonna be available on the perimeter, especially at the 1 and the 2.”
Even if social media outlets believe Simons is one of the best-kept secrets in the league, there were high expectations in Rip City for the second-year player.
Simons can score at ease and has an impressive offensive skill set-- we know that. But this season, his game was inconsistent and his confidence seemed to waver at times. He has also noted he is still a work in progress on the defensive end too.
Simon's strength is, undoubtedly, scoring and when he wasn’t doing that this season it made fans question the expectations placed on him in the offseason.
In 65 games played during the 2019-20 season, Simons averaged 8.8 points on 40.2 percent shooting in 21.5 minutes of work. He shot 33.8 percent from behind the arc and 82.6 from the free throw line, while adding 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
Just like it’s no secret that Simons didn’t have the season many had hoped for, he feels that this restart could ultimately be the fresh start he needs and wants.
That time off is obviously kind of the [same] time of the offseason. I got time to get a little bit better. Obviously it was quarantine, but when we came back for those couple months of working out – it’s kind of re-locking in and working on things that you need to work on that obviously you struggled with in the season before everything happened. So, I think coming in now it’s time to focus on the things that you struggled at and come back in and refocus on that and work hard at that. -- Trail guard Anfernee Simons
With that confidence, focus, and ability to lock in again, Simons could potentially prove to those national social media outlets during this restart – the secret is out -- IT’S ANFERNEE SIMONS; get it right.