Jonathon Simmons, Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Contract Status: 3 years/ $18 million
2016-17 stats: 78 Games, 6.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 42.0% FG, 29.4% 3PT, 75.0% FT
PER 36 stats: 78 games, 12.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 42.0% FG, 29.4% 3PT, 75.0% FT
Jonathon Simmons is the prized signing for the Orlando Magic this off-season. Beginning free agency, it was wildly assumed the San Antonio Spurs would retain Simmons as a restricted free agent. While seeming like a lock to return to the Spurs, the team unexpected renounced Simmons rights, therefore making him an unrestricted free agent. And the Orlando Magic were waiting to make a strategic move. And did they ever. The team agreed to a three-year deal worth $18 million to bring him to central Florida.
Jonathon Simmons is an interesting signing for the Magic. The team already rostered wing players Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier, and Mario Hezonja at the time and it was not clear what role Simmons would play for the team. As summer moved on, it’s became clear that Orlando plans to have Simmons challenge for a starting wing spot while providing a winning mentality to the roster. At minimum, Simmons will be a heavy use role player off the bench — his San Antonio role.
Last season for the Spurs, Simmons was a high energy role player. He played behind superstar Kawhi Leonard mostly, limiting his court time. He was developing in a key “3-and-D” type of player in the Spurs system and should play an even larger role with the Magic.
Strengths of Jonathon Simmons
Jonathon Simmons is the type of player whose real impact doesn’t quite show up in the stat sheets. Simmons is a defensive menace — and that’s being kind with words. During the 2017 playoffs, he was instrumental for the Spurs when Leonard went down with an ankle injury. He drew match ups against the Golden State Warriors best offensive player, Kevin Durant. Simmons is an athletic wing who is capable of guarding any position from point guard to power forward. Simmons possesses elite level jumping ability that he uses frequently for chase down blocks and rim rattling dunks. Orlando could use a bit of both from him this upcoming season. A career 45 percent field goal shooter, he converts well within 18 feet and closer. While not sporting a high percentage from the three, he is more than capable to knock down the open look.
Weaknesses of Jonathon Simmons
Simmons comes with his fair share of weaknesses for the Magic. Questions surround his ability to become a consistent threat on offense. During his two years in San Antonio, Simmons rarely heard his number called upon for his shot making abilities. His scoring usually came off fast break dunks, put backs, or being open off drives to the rim by his team mates for open shots. In Orlando, the team will look to push the ball often in transition but the Magic do not employ the same passing and spacing schemes that the Spurs executed. His scoring opportunities will come in a fluid offense where he can capitalize on whatever space is available or deemed a good look. His less than 30 percent three-point conversion rate leaves a lot desired. As of now, Simmons has not proved to be a consistent threat in any way offensively.
Areas of improvement for the Orlando Magic
Next season, Simmons will likely be asked to become a leader of the Orlando Magic. He brings poise and the defensively tenacity that head coach Frank Vogel is seeking. Simmons will have to be more than just a defensive face on this squad if he is to do so. He will need to bring offense as well and develop in to a true 2-way player. Two areas Simmons should attempt to improve this season is his three-point percentage efficiency and increasing his trips to the free-throw line.
If Simmons can develop into the player the Magic project him to be, then the team will have options for lineup changes throughout the season. Expect to see Simmons at minimum be the first or second player off the bench if he doesn’t secure a starting position.
Projected 2017-18 position: A combination of starting and reserve small forward