Trail Blazers

Blazers' deeper bench will focus Anfernee Simons' role says Frye

Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers had one of the league's best offseasons, bringing in impact players such as Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr. and Enes Kanter to Rip City.

"This team is so much deeper," said Channing Frye on the latest episode of Talkin' Blazers with co-host Dan Sheldon.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

"This team had to play Dame and CJ so much they're just emotionally exhausted by the time the playoffs come and it's hard. But now, you don't have to play them 30-40 minutes... You can play them 30-35. Have fresh legs."

However, many Blazers fans feel Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey neglected one position of need: backup point guard. 

Well, if you ask Olshey that's because the backup point guard for the 2020-21 season is already on the roster, "and his name is Anfernee Simons." 

In fact, Frye echoes that sentiment and thinks that with the greater depth down the roster, Simons' role will narrow to being just a scorer who can help keep the bench unit afloat and take on some of the scoring responsibility with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum resting.

"Now, with the bench being so much better defensively, now you can allow Simons to be who he's supposed to be and be that burst of scoring on the second unit.

"But you're also shrinking his role to see if he's better at 'Hey, you're coming in and you're going to be our new Lou Williams. We're going to run plays for you. You go score. Everyone else is going to rebound, [play] defense,'" explained Frye. "Less is more for him this year."

 

With the Blazers deciding to not re-sign Seth Curry after the 2018-19 season, the backup point guard job was Ant's to lose. While he showed some glimpses of the player Portland hopes he can become, he also struggled and lost his place in the rotation in favor of fellow sophomore guard Gary Trent Jr. 

All in all, Simons averaged 8.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists while shooting 39.9% from the field and 33.2% from three-point range in 20.7 minutes per game. He played in 70 regular-season contests. 

But, last year's team was fairly top-heavy after the injuries to Zach Collins and Rodney Hood. Simons may have been asked to do too much and his role may be more manageable this season with better pieces around him on the second unit. 

"You can say 'Hey we're going to play our second unit for eight minutes in the second quarter, right?'" theorized Frye. "Give them some time to grow and right now you still have Simons and Collins who you're really trying to assess and see what they can do."

Rip City will get to see if Frye's prediction comes true when the 2020-21 NBA season begins on December 22nd.