2018-2019 Portland Trail Blazers Roster Preview – Anfernee Simons, Rip City’s Most Exciting Mystery

The year was 2017. THEY were once again sleeping on the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Blazers ended up with 48 wins and the third seed in the brutal Western Conference, shutting down critics and keyboard warriors alike. Until…

Jrue Holiday happened.

The Blazers went on to drop the series in 0-4 fashion, but the bad news was just beginning. The offseason was just as bleh as the first round of the playoffs.

Now we’re just weeks away with more questions than answers as it pertains to the 2018-19 edition of Rip City Season. Jared Wright and Bryant Knox of Oregon Sports News are back with their in-depth Portland Trail Blazers 2018-19 Season Previews for each player.

Today, we take a look at a rookie in Anfernee Simons who brings mystery, intrigue and a boom-or-bust profile to Rip City.

2017-18 Recap (High School)

50 20.2 4.4 4.3 1.3


Anfernee Simons spent 2017-18 playing a post-high school grad season at IMG Academy in Florida. He was a scoring presence who played combo guard, but the majority of his production came off the ball.

Simons, who never attended college despite having offers from numerous elite basketball programs, entered the NBA draft as a bit of an enigma and the Blazers snagged him with the 24th overall pick.

What He Brings To The Table

The truth is, we don’t know a whole lot about what Simons brings to the table. We’ve never seen him play against grown men beyond summer league, meaning we’re missing substantial film and scout takes that would normally help us form a real opinion.

What we do know about this mystery player is that he has a lot of potential on the offensive end. Despite being yet another undersized guard on the Blazers’ roster (6’3”, 181 pounds as of last year’s Under Armor Association season), Simons can get buckets both above the rim and beyond the arc. The release on his jumper is extremely quick (think the exact opposite of Meyers Leonard) and although he isn’t the best creator at this point in his basketball career, he can split time at both guard positions with his ability to score in either isolation or catch-and-shoot scenarios.

As much as the transition to the NBA will put pressure on Simons to continue honing his offensive craft, defense is going to be a big challenge. For starters, his frame will need work. He’s the kind of player who has gotten away with skills, length and solid athleticism for a long time, but in the Association, even medicore offensive foes will have a field day against him if he doesn’t add muscle.

The good news is that his length, quickness and strong first step aren’t going away, so it’s not as if he’s entering the league having taken a true year off. It’s just that skipping college means you’re also skipping out on the opportunity to train with, watch and play against elite competition.

IMG Academy is an elite program for its level, but we’re not talking about someone built like Zion Williamson making the leap here. Simons is as skinny as they come, and unless he shocks the world and develops into Kevin Durant 2.0 on offense, he’ll need to fix that as quickly as his body will allow.

What To Expect In 2018-19

“He’s going to be a good NBA player,” ESPN’s Seth Greenberg said of Simons before the draft. “But people are going to need to be a little bit patient, even as young as the NBA’s getting.”

“Patient” is the key word here. The Blazers are one team that entered the draft with the luxury of patience as it pertains to young backcourt projects. Besides knowing your starting guard spots will never be in question, general manager Neil Olshey probably knew he was targeting Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas in free agency, further justifying a gamble late in the first round.

Could Simons eventually become a third scoring option? It’s possible if he continues honing his offensive skills while building an NBA body, but he’s entering 2018-19 as the fourth-string 2-guard and won’t likely see the court barring a significant injury ahead of him in the rotation.

Whenever Simons does see the court, plan on witnessing a lot of shots off curls. Backdoor cuts and some nice finishes above the rim will be on the menu as well.

But again, the minutes won’t be there to get a good feel of where he currently fits as a pro. He has a high ceiling, but he also has a low floor. The goal for this season is to simply get him trending in the right direction—even if it all happens behind the scenes.

Check out the other players in our Portland Trail Blazers Player Preview Series:

Jusuf Nurkic

Zach Collins

Evan Turner

Seth Curry

Nik Stauskas

CJ McCollum

Mo Harkless

Al-Farouq Aminu

Caleb Swanigan

Gary Trent Jr.