The San Antonio Spurs list 18 players on the roster heading into training camp, and Air Alamo will break down each of the current players, their strengths, weaknesses, chances to make the roster and expectations for the 2015-16 NBA season.
Newly signed shooting guard Jonathan Simmons comes in at No. 16, following a pair of recent draft picks in Cady Lalanne and Nikola Milutinov.
Who Is He?
After spending a couple seasons in the junior college ranks, Simmons transferred to the University of Houston and tallied 14.7 points and 5.0 rebounds, shooting 38.6 percent from three-point range as a junior. He declared early for the 2012 NBA draft but was not selected.
Simmons eventually caught on with the Austin Toros, the D-League affiliate of San Antonio—which soon changed its nickname to the Spurs. He averaged 9.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists while connecting on a meager 28.4 percent beyond the arc during the 2013-14 season.
But then last year, Simmons broke out.
The shooting guard registered 15.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, burying 39.8 percent of his triples and earning third-team All-Defensive honors.
During seven appearances for the Spurs Summer League squad, Simmons amassed 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals. He scored 23 points in Las Vegas championship game and was named MVP.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The 26-year-old’s athleticism was rather evident when he threw down a couple jaw-dropping dunks during Summer League. However, Simmons will only have a couple opportunities to showcase those springs.
Simmons has continued to develop a few areas of his game—particularly three-point range and passing—but right now, his best attributes are strong defense and an ability to attack off the dribble.
Simmons’ playing style is best compared to New Orleans Pelicans small forward Tyreke Evans, who carved out an NBA role as a slasher and has since ascended to being the No. 2 weapon behind Anthony Davis.
That also means, though, he needs to improve the consistency of his three-point shooting. Simmons helps fill the void Marco Belinelli’s departure created, but it’s highly improbable Gregg Popovich can trust Simmons enough right now to make him a regular piece in the rotation.
What to Expect in 2015-16
Shams Charania—then of RealGM, now Yahoo—notes Simmons’ contract is guaranteed for 2015-16, so San Antonio has likely committed to the shooting guard who has the potential to become the Spurs’ next D-League diamond.
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“At minimum,” Bleacher Report’s Stephen Babb said, “Simmons should develop into a Corey Brewer-like slasher, a strong defender who also has a nose for penetration and perhaps the occasional corner three.”
This season, however, Simmons is best suited to fill emergency and garbage-time roles, especially as Manu Ginobili’s backup. When the veteran sixth man takes a night off—or worst-case scenario, is sidelined due to injury—Simmons might slide into double-digit minutes.
Otherwise, he’ll benefit from practicing with a championship-caliber team and receiving advice from Popovich and shooting coach Chip Engelland, among others.