The San Antonio Spurs promised to put Jonathon Simmons in a much more important role this season, his second in the league. It’s been up and down for him up to this point, but whenever he does show up, it’s usually the most exciting thing happening that night.
When you look at the stats, this isn’t such a great season for Simmons. He’s playing a bit more than before, but his scoring numbers are down, per game and per minute. And yet Simmons is a much bigger presence on the Spurs than he was last season. Not just garbage time minutes, but a more meaningful role, as promised after his strong showing during the summer league games. Kyle Anderson is struggling to make the kind of impact the Spurs were hoping for, but Simmons has established himself as part of the rotation in 17 appearances, averaging 18.9 minutes per game.
Besides outplaying Anderson, it’s easy to notice Simmons. He made himself known in the first game this season against the Golden State Warriors, and whenever he does show up, it’s usually with incredible athletic feats, dunks and blocks. Something that might not be a typical Spurs thing to do, but times are a changin’ and the Spurs roll on with them. They’re still about fundamentals and playing basketball the right, simple way. However, a bit more flash in their arsenal doesn’t hurt anyone, as long as it’s the kind of flash that helps win games.
Simmons scored 15 points, his best since the 20 he dropped in the season opener, and only his third double-digit scoring game this season. It’s adapt or get shelved with the Spurs, especially with such a long and deep bench, and Simmons is hoping that he stays in that kind of place, playing over 20 minutes a night, a bit more consistently from now on. But he’ll probably need more than highlight-worthy plays in order to keep his spot in the rotation.