Anfernee Simons – USA
CPP Big Board Ranking: #23 Overall (#8 PG/#9 SG)
Weight: 183 lbs
Age/Birthday: 19 (6/8/99)
Hometown: Altamonte Springs, Florida
High School: IMG Acadamy
(Brett Siegel – 6/12/18)
Perhaps one of the biggest question marks of this year’s draft; Anfernee Simons has a chance to be a special, young talent who likely will sit a couple years to develop. Simons was ranked as the #1 combo-guard in the nation in the 247 Sports 2018 Recruiting Rankings and was ranked as the 7th best recruit in the nation. Originally committed to play for Rick Pitino and Louisville, Anfernee Simons decommitted from the Cardinals on September 27th after Rick Pitino was released of his coaching duties at Louisville and the program faced the FBI Investigation into college basketball. Anfernee Simons mulled over the decision on whether to go to college and play basketball or submit his name to the NBA Draft. After visiting with Tennessee, South Carolina, UCLA, and NC State’s coaching staffs, Anfernee Simons decided it was in his best interest to forgo his collegiate career and submit his name for the 2018 NBA Draft. Simons enters this June’s draft as a very raw combo guard with a lot of potential and room for growth. Although he will likely be a first-round selection, Simons is not the type of prospect to come in and play immediately. It will likely take a year or two, possibly in the G-League, for Anfernee Simons to learn the NBA’s style of play and the system he is now apart of with his new NBA organization. Although seen as a project by many NBA scouts, Anfernee Simons may end up being a diamond in the rough for the franchise willing to gamble on him.
When you first encounter Anfernee Simons on the court, it is clear to see that he is a gifted offensive player and pure-scorer from the guard position. He can score from inside, mid-range, and from beyond the three-point line. Although he did not participate in shooting drills or the scrimmages at the NBA combine, he has worked out for a few NBA teams and has impressed everyone with his shooting abilities from NBA lines. He was a very solid shooter at IMG, averaging about 45% from three-point range and 85% from the free-throw line for his career, but there were lots of question marks surrounding his abilities to adjust to the NBA measurements. Simons has quickly silenced all the doubts of his scoring ability at NBA measurements and looked like the pure-scorer he is at these pre-draft workouts. A lot of Anfernee Simon’s explosiveness and ability to score inside comes from his quickness and craftiness. Simons showcased his speed at the NBA Combine by running a 3.10 second three-quarter sprint (ranking T-7 among guards). The transition game favors Simons heavily and allows him to be creative with and without the ball. As a passer, Simons has showcased his abilities quite well, averaging 4.4 assists per game in his high school career to only 0.5 turnovers per game. He understands the game well as a combo-guard and seems to always get his teammates open and create space on the floor when he is in transition.
Perhaps my favorite strength of Anfernee Simons’ game is how quick his handles are and how quick he makes decisions. At IMG Academy, Simons was never really known as a pure point guard, but more as a “scoring guard.” His hesitation moves with the ball and his ball handling tendencies may be some of the best in this draft, even though he does not fit the description of a point guard. Going back to his explosiveness, Anfernee Simons can be lethal when left around the rim. At the NBA Combine, he tied for the second best max vertical leap of 41.5” among all 69 prospects, and tied for 6th with a 32” standing vertical jump. Unlike many guards we see in today’s NBA, Simons is the type you always have to keep an eye on as a defender because if you lose him, he may be finishing a highlight reel dunk or alley-oop over you. The final strength to Simons’ game is his length. Although he measured in at 6’3.25” at the NBA Combine with shoes, Simons blew everyone away with his 6’9.25” wingspan. His length provides optimism that he will not only continue being a great offensive player, but potential to grow as a wing defender. He did average 4.3 RPG and 1.3 SPG as a guard at IMG Academy and Simons has shown the ability to be a well-above average rebounder, so it would not shock me if he becomes a terrific two-way player in the NBA someday.
Believe it or not, Anfernee Simons’ biggest weakness is that not a lot of scouts and executives have seen him play. He last played at IMG during his junior season back in 2016-17. Since then, Simons has only showcased his abilities at team and private workouts. For teams that have not participated at these workouts, they barely know any info about Simons, other than the stats you and I know from the NBA Combine! Because Simons did not play overseas or in college, many teams may stray away from him because he is labeled as a “liability” and “project” coming into the NBA from high school. Some parts of his game may be a project and may need to be fixed once he is drafted, but you cannot teach a young guard how to be a scorer. Anfernee Simons was gifted with his scoring abilities and should not need much teaching on the offensive end of the court.
Anfernee Simons also needs to improve his skill-set as a point guard. He has a “score-first” mentality, which can be good, but as a young point guard in the NBA, his job will be to facilitate the offense and handle ball pressure. This is something Simons had trouble with at times in showcases and will have to work on becoming a more well-rounded combo-guard. Along with being a “score-first” guard, Simons is susceptible to trying “highlight reel” type and difficult shots. He sometimes tried to showboat at the Under Armour and Nike camps he participated in, leading to questions surrounding his ability to truly find his teammates. It is unknown if Simons is willing to pass up contested drives and shots at the next level for his teammates. Lastly, Anfernee Simons must grow into an “NBA guard mold.” What I mean by this is that Simons must get stronger and as a result, improve his finishing in traffic. Simons was last recorded at 183.2 lbs at the NBA Combine, which was one of the lowest measurements for guards. By adding 15-20 lbs of muscle and body mass at the next level, Simons could immediately have an easier time taking his defenders to the rim and improve his overall aggressiveness and ability to play with power and strength. Improving physicality is one of the few things Simons must improve on before he is to have an immediate impact on an NBA roster.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Markelle Fultz and Victor Oladipo
Comparing Simons to Fultz and Oladipo is definitely high praise for a prospect that a lot of people know nothing about. Simons’ measurements align very similarly with those of Fultz and Oladipo. Markelle Fultz stands 6’4” and about 195 lbs, with a 6’10”/7’0” wingspan, depends who you ask. At the 2013 NBA Combine, Victor Oladipo measured 6’4.25” with shoes, 1 inch taller than Simons, 213 lbs, and possessed a 6’9.25” wingspan, the same as Simons. Although both Fultz and Oladipo were stronger and heavier built prospects, they also had time at college and in a college basketball system, where they “bulked up” their frame. We did not see much of Markelle Fultz in his rookie season in the NBA, but at Washington, he was seen as a pure-scoring guard, much like Anfernee Simons is seen. He shot about 41% from three-point range and averaged 23.2 PPG. Oladipo was not as a good of a shooter as both Simons and Fultz entering the draft, but shot 44.1% from three-point range in his final season at Indiana. Measurement wise, Simons most compares to Victor Oladipo back in 2013, but scoring/offensively wise, Simons most compares with last year’s #1 overall selection, Markelle Fultz. It is very crazy to say, but based on his pure-explosiveness and motor, Anfernee Simons’ ceiling is definitely like Russell Westbrook today, but that is just comparing his quickness, motor, ball-handling skills, and explosiveness. Anfernee Simons is definitely that talented and could become a star someday in the NBA under the right development. Much like last year with Terrance Ferguson, nobody really knows who will gamble on Anfernee Simons, but we do know it would be very surprising if he fell out of the first-round. Expect to see Anfernee Simons fall somewhere in the first-round after the lottery in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Can’t get enough NBA Draft content? Check out the rest of our NBA Draft Player Profiles, along with NBA Draft Analyst Brett Siegel’s latest Big Board and Mock Draft!