PORTLAND, Ore. — Shooting guard Anfernee Simons has re-signed with the Portland Trail Blazers, the team announced Wednesday. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported June 30 that the contract is a four-year deal worth $100 million. See full contract details here.
Last season, Simons averaged career highs in points (17.3), assists (3.9), rebounds (2.6) and minutes (29.5). But Simons really broke out when he was thrust into the starting lineup after Damian Lillard decided to have abdominal surgery. After Jan. 3, Simons averaged 23.4 points, 5.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 35.4 minutes per game.
Despite a big increase in minutes and usage, Simons' efficiency didn't drop; in fact, it improved. Simons shot 45.6% from the field, 86.6% from the free-throw line and 42.3% on more than 10 3-point attempts per game after Jan. 3.
"Anfernee is already one of the league’s top shooters and this past season he showed elite ability as a shot creator and distributor," said Blazers general manager Joe Cronin. "We are excited for him to continue the growth he has shown in his first four seasons in Portland."
Simons' emergence surely played a role in the Blazers' decision to trade starting shooting guard CJ McCollum at the trade deadline. Now Simons projects as the starter in the backcourt next to Damian Lillard for the foreseeable future.
The Blazers drafted Simons with the 24th overall selection in the 2018 NBA draft out of IMG Academy in Florida. Simons didn't play much his rookie season, averaging just 7.1 minutes in 20 games. But in the final game of the regular season, when Portland rested all of its regular players against the Sacramento Kings, Simons showed what he was capable of, finishing with 37 points, nine assists and six rebounds in 48 minutes, while hitting 7 of 11 3-point attempts.
Over the next two seasons, Simons was an effective reserve, averaging 8.1 points in 19.1 minutes per game while shooting 38.4% from the 3-point line. He was inconsistent but showed flashes of his potential, like a 26-point game with six 3-pointers against the Thunder in October 2021 or a 27-point performance with seven 3s later that season against the Pacers.
In his fourth season, Simons started to put it all together. In his first game in the starting lineup after Lillard decided to have surgery, he scored 43 points and hit nine 3-pointers in a win against the Hawks. And before the Blazers sat down Simons for the final 19 games of the season as they prioritized draft position, Simons finished strong, averaging 26.3 points and 5.1 assists over an eight-game stretch before he was shut down.