Exploring the potential impact of Jonathon Simmons

Jonathon Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jonathon Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

In his first season handling general manager responsibilities for the Philadelphia 76ers, Elton Brand found a handful of suitable trade partners. Among those suitors, Brand exchanged highly scrutinized young guard Markelle Fultz with the Orlando Magic for Jonathon Simmons and draft assets. Simmons, the 6-foot-6 Shooting Guard, is a four-year veteran anticipating to fulfill a spark plug role off of the Sixers’ newly renovated bench.

Jonathon Simmons, who celebrated his 29th birthday in September, is under contract through the 2019-20 season. The Philadelphia 76ers are presumably glad to jettison Markelle Fultz‘s contract, due for $9,745,200 next season, and upwards of $13 million in the final year of his rookie scale contract.

Simmons however, is owed just $5,700,000 following this season provided the Sixers decide to keep him. Simmons’ tenure with San Antonio led to 6.1 points per game, with the addition of 1.4 assists, 1.9 rebounds, and less than one steal. Simmons, earning the nickname “The Juice“, steadily improved his statistical contributions for the Orlando Magic, increasing his point scoring by 5.2 points, collecting 1.2 more rebounds, and dishing out 1.0 more assists, on a nightly basis.

Because of Simmons’ decrease in production this season, the misconception is that the lack thereof is discouraging. Nevertheless, Simmons’ role with Orlando has nearly diminished into one similar with the Spurs.

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A season ago, Orlando head coach Frank Vogel decided to unleash Simmons for 29.4 minutes per game, 11.5 minutes more than Gregg Popovich granted him with San Antonio. Despite Simmons’ career high production within 2017-18, he saw his minutes fall to 20.6 this season thanks to Magic head coach Steve Clifford. In a limited role, Simmons posted a 39.7 effective field goal percentage through the first half of this season, far below his 48.2 career average. More over, in two of Simmons’ four seasons, he has surpassed the 50.0 percent mark and sustained.

True Shooting percentage, otherwise known as TS%, helps effectively determine the efficiency mainly of volume shooters. Of course, this statistical category is no friend of Simmons (a career 31.2% three-point shooter) but even in a season where he has underperformed, his 44.5 true shooting percentage is just 1.9 percent below Avery Bradley and 4.2 percent south of Tyreke Evans. Analytics, even basic statistical measures, are not always the most accurate barometer of an individual player’s impact, and this holds true for Simmons.

Simmons is neither a catch and shoot guard, nor is he a pull-up shooter, but rather, an energizer that relentlessly penetrates the paint and defends fellow perimeter guards well.  Defensively, Simmons is holding his opponents to 41.1 percent from the field and an even worse 35.1 percent from beyond the arc this season. Making great defensive strides, the athletic slasher of a guard in Simmons held his opponents to 47.6 percent from the field last season and is on pace to block more shots this season than the last.

This is the lowest field goal percentage Simmons has limited his opponents to in his career and despite defending DeMar DeRozan and Josh Hart twice this season, the highest point average against him is Wesley Matthews9.0 points.

Simmons’ fearlessness around the rim is best represented by his 48.1 field goal percentage less than ten feet away from the basket. Further, Simmons shoots two-point field goals less than 10 feet from the basket with 48.4 percent frequency which occurs far more than any other shot on the floor.

He is making 40.4 percent of shots taken after 3-6 dribbles, which occurs 36.0 percent of the time this season. Additionally, Simmons ranked with the top 50 in both free throws attempted and free throws made two seasons ago, indicating that he can still successfully draws fouls.

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By no means is Simmons a volume shooter, most definitely not a three-point shooter, but he is an impactful slashing guard. 48.8 percent of Simmons’ point scoring comes within the paint, the second highest percentage in his career, and his 18.1 usage percentage is the lowest since 2016. The combination of Simmons’ perimeter defense and occasional offensive production will provide the Philadelphia 76ers with a much-needed spark off of the bench.