By Josh Cohen
July 15, 2017
ORLANDO — Jonathon Simmons plays with incredible hustle, energy, passion and determination. He has a really high motor and is relentless on both ends of the floor. You don’t get a three-year NBA contract after having to try out for a G League team just a few years earlier unless you give 110 percent all the time.
On the offensive side, Simmons is a pretty good scorer in isolation. He’s comfortable isolating a defender above the arc and operating off the dribble. He’s somewhat unpredictable – has a good stop-start game and uses an effective hesitation dribble to outwork his opponent – and he’s fairly crafty when he drives to the rim.
Simmons isolated his defender 133 times in the regular season and postseason combined this past year and in 84 of those instances he attempted a shot. This tells us that Simmons is ultra-aggressive, fearless and undaunted no matter who the defender is in front of him.
While sometimes it looks like he’s going to crash into straight-on traffic, Simmons veers and shifts his body well when he attacks the paint. He has a bulldog mentality and his strength, durability and resistance helps him get quality shots off inside. He has nifty footwork, also, which includes a good step-through and a respectable Eurostep.
Most of the time when he drives the lane, Simmons gets a shot off near the basket. Of his 184 drives that resulted in a shot attempt (regular season and playoffs), 163 of them were taken near the hoop (89 percent). Only 21 of his drives led to a pull-up jumper (11 percent).
Simmons has a pretty good touch, too. He shot nearly 54 percent less than five feet out during the regular season and 46 percent between five and nine feet away.
Simmons is a tenacious on-the-ball wing defender. He’s pesky, insistent and has good lateral quickness. Similar to a player like Lance Stephenson (who is probably Simmons’ best NBA comparison), he’s one of those defenders that is ultra-bothersome because of his persistence and toughness.
Here are some impressive numbers that show the field goal percentages opponents shot when Simmons was the closest defender (regular season/playoffs combined):
James Harden: 38.1 percent (21 shot attempts)
Trevor Ariza: 28.6 percent (7 shot attempts)
Russell Westbrook: 25 percent (4 shot attempts)
Devin Booker: 0 percent (3 shot attempts)
Simmons is also excellent defensively in transition. He had a few jaw-dropping chase-down blocks this past season. This accentuates his athleticism and agility as well.
Let’s take a look at Simmons in action, which help illustrate his strengths and abilities:
SIMMONS ATTACKS LANE & SWERVES AWAY FROM SHOT BLOCKER
SIMMONS CALLS OFF BALL SCREEN, DRIVES & HITS FLOATER
SIMMONS SHOWS OFF FOOTWORK & POWER
TEXTBOOK ONE-ON-ONE DEFENSE VS. HARDEN
SIMMONS CHASE-DOWN BLOCK IN TRANSITION