Blazers news: Damian Lillard hints at teammate Anfernee Simons' future Dunk Contest participation
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Damian Lillard hints at Blazers teammate Anfernee Simons’ future Dunk Contest participation

Blazers, Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons

Anfernee Simons is one of the most anonymous players in the NBA. If Damian Lillard has anything to say about it, though, this time next year his rookie teammate will have just become an overnight star. The Portland Trail Blazers superstar tweeted on Monday that Simons is “comin” for the 2020 dunk contest crown.

A late first-round pick of the Blazers last summer, Simons’ rookie year has gone about as expected. He’s played in just 12 games this season, only being called from the far end of the bench by Terry Stotts when the result of a game has already been decided. Simons showed off his wealth of natural talent during a brief stint in the G-League, though, averaging 17.3 points and shooting 45.5 percent from beyond the arc in four games for the Agua Caliente Clippers.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard was a relative unknown during the pre-draft process. After shooting up the recruiting rankings the summer before his senior year of high school, Simons enrolled at Florida’s IMG Academy in the fall of 2017 rather than going to college, a not uncommon path for high-level talents who desire more exposure or need to get their grades in order. Portland took the teenager with 24th pick last June, betting that his obvious upside would ultimately make him a worthwhile choice despite the team needing a more immediate means of help going into 2018-19.

Simons certainly appears qualified for a dunk contest that could include newly-minted champion Hamidou Diallo and Duke phenom Zion Williamson at next year’s All-Star weekend. The Blazers posted this video of Simons getting his head at the rim on a self alley-oop last week.