Anfernee Simons had a breakout year last season for the Portland Trail Blazers. Over the course of the year, he shot 42% from the field and 42.6% from three. The 21-year-old also won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. You can view his dunks here:
For the better half of the last three years, Simons has played the two-guard position alongside guys like Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Gary Trent Jr., and Rodney Hood. Now in a new system with Chauncey Billups as the head coach. Simons may finally be able to see time as a true PG. Now obviously it will be in the backup role.
The Blazers haven’t had a traditional backup point guard since Shabazz Napier in 2018. Instead, McCollum has served admirably running the team while Damian Lillard rests. But on Wednesday, when Billups was asked if he still envisioned McCollum as the team’s primary backup, he was emphatic.
“Nah,” Billups said. “I want CJ and Ant to be playing some backup point guard. A lot of my conversations with (Simons) is about that — him being able to play a lot of backup point guard minutes, you know, running the show.”
Simons has mentioned that he feels like a bigger part of the offense than he has been in the past. He told Quick that he feels more comfortable within the role than he ever has before.
“When I did run plays, it was to get somebody else the ball,” Simons said. “So it didn’t really feel like a point guard, you know what I mean? I wasn’t really treated as such, I was more of a two-guard who came in and ran a play for somebody else. Now, based on the offense and stuff, it’s more predicated on what I want to do. Like, I have more freedom to be aggressive when I can.”
“I’ve been on him, trying to make him a better playmaker,” Billups said. “And guys like him and Nas, who are kind of finding their way, I don’t want them to think that scoring baskets is the only way they are going to stay on the floor. Because that ends up making you shoot a lot of bad shots, take a lot of chances. It’s not going to be (scoring) that keeps you on the floor. Love that, being able to shoot and stuff, but they have to be some of the hardest-playing dudes on the floor. They have to do some of those kinds of things. I think we have a pretty good understanding.”
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