San Antonio Spurs: Potential rotation replacements for Jonathon Simmons
With Jonathon Simmons out the door, who could take over his minutes in the San Antonio Spurs’ rotation?
The San Antonio Spurs renounced Jonathon Simmons’ rights on Thursday, according to reports from The Vertical’s Shams Charania and the San Antonio Express-News’ Jabari Young. This ended Simmons’ two seasons in San Antonio.
Simmons’ departure potentially opens the door for Spurs players that saw reduced roles in the 2016-17 season. One of them is even a new signing, someone who joined the team on Thursday afternoon.
There are options to take Simmons’ spot in the rotation, or to consume his leftover minutes. Who should be the top replacements?
3. Kyle Anderson
Kyle Anderson is the most likely candidate to take some of Jonathon Simmons’ minutes. Anderson stands at 6-foot-9, but with the ability to guard both the small forward and shooting guard positions.
Through three seasons, Anderson never topped 16 minutes per game off the bench. The 2016-17 campaign saw him average just 14.2 minutes, putting up 3.4 points and 2.9 rebounds. However, it came on a career-high 37 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Anderson is also a defensive specialist for the Spurs. His 7-foot-2 wingspan can be used against smaller wings, overwhelming them and causing a size mismatch. More use of this may allow Gregg Popovich to tinker with his lineup options.
Anderson’s offensive game hasn’t broken out yet, but it’s possible that with more time, he’ll be able to shine. That would be crucial for him, entering a contract year at age 24. If this is shown, along with an increased defensive value, a big payday could be in store for the UCLA product.
This is the ideal candidate to take the extra playing time, but other options remain for the Spurs. Who does this include?
Next: Brandon Paul
2. Brandon Paul
On Thursday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the San Antonio Spurs signing Brandon Paul to a guaranteed contract. It came days after Paul left the Cleveland Cavaliers, who he joined for the 2017 Summer League.
Paul is a 6-foot-4 shooting guard that can fill in Jonathon Simmons’ minutes. He’s a former player for the Illinois Fightin’ Illini basketball team and split the past four years between the D-League and the Euroleague.
Paul’s overseas numbers were highlighted by his 3-point shooting ability. It saw him hit 37 percent of his shots in three Euroleague seasons, including 41 percent in the 2016-17 season, with Turkish club Anadolu Efes.
If the report of a guaranteed deal is true, then look for Paul to be part of the Spurs rotation for the 2017-18 season. He can be a 3-point specialist off the bench and fill in as a capable defender, using his 6-foot-10 wingspan. It’s not the highly-regarded defense of Simmons, but if the Spurs feel the potential is there for a cheaper alternative, then that could be the reason for this signing and renouncing occurring.
Given how Paul never played a regular season game in the NBA, his success is hardly guaranteed. He should need meaningful game action before receiving a larger role on the team.
Next: Bryn Forbes
1. Bryn Forbes
Arguably the MVP of the 2017 Summer League, Bryn Forbes has looked terrific for the San Antonio Spurs. He posted back-to-back games of 35 points and hasn’t totaled fewer than 20 points since his first Summer League game of the month.
Forbes played just 36 games with the Spurs in the 2016-17 season, spending part of the year in the D-League. He broke out with a 27 point game in 29 minutes against the Dallas Mavericks, however, flashing the scoring upside that’s been shown this offseason.
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Forbes isn’t on a fully guaranteed deal for the 2017-18 season, so his spot isn’t set on the Spurs. He’s playing his way onto the roster, with continuously great performances. If Popovich and the San Antonio brass see enough in Forbes, could he get significant rotation minutes next season?
The Michigan State product is a different player than Jonathon Simmons, known more for his scoring than defense. He stands at 6-foot-3 and isn’t the complete defensive player Simmons is, so it’s an alternative look for a Spurs team that’s full of quality defenders.
However, with perimeter shooting and floor spacing as the NBA’s current trend, Forbes may be more valuable than ever. He can score in bunches and be a source of instant offense, contributing to the counter attack against the high-powered offenses of the Western Conference (Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors). Forbes isn’t the key to matching these teams, but can provide assistance.
Next: Top 10 first-round picks in Spurs history
Who’s the best option to take Simmons’ minutes? Is it someone from outside the organization?