Portland Trail Blazers: Who should be part of the long-term core?

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images) /

4. Anfernee Simons

Some could say Anfernee Simons is one of the biggest reasons the Portland Trail Blazers made the Western Conference Finals. In the final game of the season where the Blazers rested their starters and were seemingly throwing the game to land the 4-seed and play the Utah Jazz in the first round, Simons was having none of that. The rookie led a wild comeback and helped the team secure the 3-seed, avoiding the Warriors in the second round.

In that game against the Sacramento Kings, he put up 37 points, nine rebounds, six assists and hit seven 3-point shots. It was by far his best game of the season and showed flashes of the type of player he has the potential to become. Simons is only a teenager and is currently learning from some of the best guards in the league in Lillard and McCollum.

Simons has a good basketball talent and is very athletic and explosive for a guard. There is still a lot of room to grow physically and with his understanding of the NBA game, but he could be asked to contribute to this team right away next year. If Seth Curry leaves this summer in free agency, Portland might let Simons take over the backup guard role since it doesn’t have much money to spend in free agency. His scoring, playmaking and defensive ability at the guard spot could be a nice addition to the bench unit.

He is an excellent long-term insurance plan for the Blazers. If something were to happen to Lillard or McCollum in future seasons, or if one demands a trade or anything like that, Simons is smaller, scoring guard like those two and could take over one of those roles if needed.

He was the 25th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, but if he went to college and were a one-and-done prospect, he would probably would’ve been a lottery pick in 2019. Simons could end up being one of the biggest steals of the draft. Portland could also keep Lillard, McCollum and Simons and have one of the deadliest three-guard lineups in the NBA in a few years.