May 21, 2024

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Rising Trail Blazers Star Has Stepped Up

Rising Trail Blazers Star Has Stepped Up

Head coach Chauncey Billups and Anfernee Simons #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers talk during the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Moda Center on October 21, 2022 in Portland, Oregon.
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

 

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers is officially questionable for Sunday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, which is wonderfully welcome news for fans in the Pacific Northwest.

The superstar guard has sat out of the last seven games due to a right calf strain.

During that time, his Blazers have gone 2-5, which shows the power of Dame Time.

Although the Blazers have suffered without Lillard, one player on the roster has taken on the responsibilities and challenges of filling the void he left.

Anfernee Simons had been dominant since Lillard’s absence began.

During that time, Simons has averaged 29.4 points, and 5.4 assists, and has shot 48% from the field, 42% from three, and 94% on his free throws.

Those are the stats that the Blazers fans have been waiting for from Simons for a long time.

The young star has really come into his own and is becoming one of the most exciting talents in the West.

 

The Simons Surge

Last season, Simons was putting up 17.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists – all strong numbers for someone in his fourth season.

But Simons has enhanced his game in some big ways since then and is now putting up 24.8 points, 3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists.

He is scoring 43.9% of his shots and 40.5% of his threes.

What has led to such an evolution of his game?

Obviously, Simons is just feeling more comfortable on the court and competing on such a huge stage but the Blazers have also been asking more of the young man, especially since CJ McCollum left the team last season to join the New Orleans Pelicans.

Following that move, Simons took on the role of Lillard’s biggest support and his right-hand man.

That is no small challenge, of course, but Simons has been more than willing to step up and thrive.