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Is Jonathon Simmons more NBA-ready than Kyle Anderson?

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Now that Summer League is over, J.R. Wilco, Michael Erler and Jesus Gomez attempt to unpack all that happened in Utah and Vegas. First off, Becky Hammon, Jonathon Simmons and Kyle Anderson.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Jesus Gomez
In his finals recap Michael pretty much summed up how I feel about Summer League. It's kind of pointless but it's always fun to watch any version of the Spurs win. At the same time, I can't say I would have been disappointed with a loss early in the tournament. I guess the question is, does it mean anything that the Spurs are champions?

J.R. Wilco
It sure means something to the Becky Hammon watchers. That's for sure. The way the league responded to the shared accomplishment was great to see.

Michael Erler
In and of itself, the title doesn't mean much. I'm pretty sure the Spurs won't raise the banner at the AT&T Center. And actually, it's the kind of thing that I think could be a negative in the hands of the wrong organization --like the Kings-- where the principals could get carried away with it and get inflated egos and whatnot. But it validated Hammon, got her name out there around the league, where she isn't just a human interest story and a "cute" Pop experiment but now someone who's a viable candidate for future jobs outside of the Spurs organization. I think she can get interviews for a gig in the next year or two. That's a big deal.

As for the players, if the exposure and the pressure of playing in a tournament format did anything for Anderson's or Simmons' confidence, that can't help but be a good thing. And who knows, maybe PATFO saw something in one of the others.

Gomez
The one thing I didn't like about the Hammon coverage -- just because I sometimes get priorities wrong -- is that in the hurry to praise her few actually bothered to, you know, actually watch the team and really see if she could coach. Again, that's a small, meaningless complaint that doesn't matter but it bothered me at times.

Wilco
Talking heads will always chime in on the subject when asked to. When critiquing media, it's just as valuable to look at which topics get raised as it is to see how they are handled. The very fact that the Spurs' win is being seen as newsworthy is a good thing in both the short and long term.

Erler
I loved the play in the second half where there were like two seconds left in the shot clock and Hammon signaled a play to get I think Simmons an open three-point look and Isiah Thomas was just gushing at the concept of her having a play prepared for that situation. Imagine, an NBA coach having a play! It said a lot for his coaching career.

Wilco
What coaching career? =]

Erler
I didn't have any doubts that she'd handle the environment well. PATFO would never put anyone in the position to make the organization or themselves look bad. Pop wouldn't have put her out there if he didn't think she was ready.

Gomez
She was ready and she was great. The decision to go small often was smart and the plays the team ran out of timeouts were effective. And like J.R. says, it's a good thing people are talking about the Spurs' win and Hammon. I just wish more people had seen her actually coach but it's a minor quibble.

Erler
I think generally it's hard to really tell as an outsider if someone can coach or not and even more so in the summer league. Any mistake teams make get dumped into the "what are you gonna do with players who are this inexperienced and unskilled?" file. It's the same in college. 

J.R. Wilco
Coaching is a lot like directing a film. When everything goes well, it's often difficult to see how much work it took to put together. But the one thing you know is that when it's successful, the person in charge didn't screw it up. Not messing things up is, if we're to believe Pop, a big part of coaching.

Gomez
That's a good way to put it.

Erler
Generally the better the players are, the more responsibility we place on the coach if things go badly.

Gomez
The Spurs did have two standout players: Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons. Were you impressed with them or should we chalk up how good they looked to the level of competition they faced?

Wilco
I was crazy-impressed with Simmons. Anderson's performance is pretty much what I expected.

Erler
Both. They both have certain NBA-level skills. Anderson has certain aspects of his game you can't teach and same with Simmons. But they have limitations as well, and I think Anderson's are more fatal than Simmons'.

Wilco
You're thinking about his defense, aren't you?

Erler
If only that was his only issue.

Wilco
It's the one I'm most concerned with.

Erler
I hope you're all sitting down, but I think Mr. Anderson's play was a tad overrated. In 10 games he shot .... drum roll..... 39.6 percent. That's not good. From three-point land he shot..... 24 percent. That's horrific.

Wilco
But the Spurs often put guys into unfamiliar positions in order for them to learn during summer league. I'm not sure looking too deeply into those numbers is going to bring a whole lot of value. Remember George Hill's Summer League disaster?

Erler
Unfamiliar positions? Au contraire. I'd argue the position they put Anderson in is exactly the one he was accustomed to at UCLA and at Austin. He had the ball the whole time. It's how he's gonna be used in San Antonio that's "the unfamiliar position."

Gomez
Do we need to have a talk on how usage affects efficiency? Anderson did a good job in a gigantic role, creating for himself and others. And it's a shame we don't have advanced stats for SL because assist opportunities would have been a great way to judge how Anderson found players. It's not his fault those guys can't shoot, even when open.

Erler
I think you're suffering from recency bias, Jesus. I watched all the games too. He didn't create for others very well most of the tournament, regardless of whether the opportunities were converted or not. Only the last game really looked like the Anderson from Austin. 

Like, to me, that's the question to answer for both Simmons and especially Anderson. We've seen what they can do with the ball, and it's more good than bad. Can they play without the ball?

Wilco
Simmons can play defense, and that means he can get playing time. Whatever offense he brings is gravy. And that offense -- man. Eye-popping.

Erler
I agree. I think his transition will be smoother. He can run a lot of the stuff Ginobili runs or play off the ball, pump-fake and go.

Gomez
Simmons has a defined role and position and that's huge, really. He's a shooting guard who can spot up (according to Austin numbers) and attack closeouts. He can create in a pinch and he can defend wings. I think he's a gem and it's weird the Spurs found him before anyone else.

Wilco
You say it's weird, but it's coming to be expected.

Erler
There has to be a back story with him we don't know about. (Editor's note: there is) I still don't understand how he wasn't drafted, period. Some pounder told me he couldn't shoot in college, but his three-point percentage his last year in Houston was solid.

The bottom line is it didn't take long for him to open my eyes. The first game after he signed I saw him drive with either hand and finish with either hand. That in itself for a two-guard is rare. And since then he's only impressed me more the more I watched him. He can kind of run a pick-and-roll (the passing part needs work, although he can make that Manu hook pass to the corner) and he has a Euro-step.

Gomez
He talked about his ability to finish with either hand as his biggest strength and I agree. Great slasher and while he's a bit turnover prone, he can create his own shot.

Erler
The dribble is a bit loose and away from his body, but it's better than Danny's, for sure.
I'm sure Chad will get him to tighten that up a bit and Chip will work with him on the three.

Wilco
I'd love to see what he can do against NBA speed and agility. If he can dunk like he has against Summer League guys, then he can run the wing on my fast break any day.

Gomez
I think Simmons can defend and like J.R. said, that might get him minutes. But as much as I enjoyed watching him handle the ball and create, we are not going to see much of that. His future with the team will come down to how well he shoots, like with most wings, I think. If he can hit spot up threes and drive, he will have a long career.

Erler
I'm inclined to think he may get some chances when Manu is being rested or hurt.  It's not like there are too many ball-handlers on the roster.

Gomez
I'd rather have Anderson in that role.

Erler
Offensively his release is still too slow, his three-point shot is still a wreck and he plays in crowds too much. His pet move seems to be dribbling into people in the middle of the lane. It drew fouls in Summer League but I don't think it's gonna work out well in the pros.

Wilco
I still say that much of what we saw from him was him forcing things because he was asked to take on a larger role to see how he handled it.

Gomez
It's like we watched two different players, Michael. He can post up, work on the pick and roll as either ball handler and screener and has a fantastic floater which helps make up for his lack of speed against smaller defenders.

Erler
He shot 39 percent. I didn't hallucinate those missed shots. And you can't really tell me all the fouls he drew in Vegas will be calls he'd get in the league.

As I said before, I like his floater, and I like his pump-fake. He rebounds very well and has above-average vision. I just don't know if those pluses can overcome so many minuses.

Gomez
He worked on changing speeds to draw fouls and it worked. Why wouldn't it translate? I think he still needs a three-point shot to fit the role the Spurs will ask him to play and he didn't show he has one. But at some point we all need to agree that while his strengths are not what we want them to be, he does well with the ball in his hands.

Michael Erler
He needs the ball in his hands, which is my worry. I don't see him as a .5 seconds shoot/drive/pass guy. He's a ball-stopper. Dribble-dribble-dribble a la Pierce or Melo.

Gomez
Pierce and Melo are really good players! I don't think he's comparable to either of those guys, by the way. I think the best comparison for Anderson is a 6'9" Evan Turner. I'm not a huge Evan Turner fan but he's not terrible at creating with the ball in his hands.

Erler
That's not the Spurs though.

Wilco
Are we even sure what the Spurs are going to be this coming year? We can say, "that's not the Spurs," But at this point, we're just guessing.

Worst case scenario, Anderson plays in Austin again this year and develops even more. He's still on his rookie contract. It's not like there's any trade value so he'll certainly be on the roster. And the rotation is going to be tough to crack with all the talent from 1-9.

Erler
I'll say this much. I really don't like the idea of Anderson playing with Manu Ginobili, David West and Patty Mills. I think that can be disastrous. My thinking is to stagger the minutes for Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge and also for Green and Leonard. If Anderson has to play 15 minutes, I'd prefer that to be with the starters and for Leonard to be with the bench guys, like Pippen did with the Bulls' second unit.

Gomez
Pop did that last season a fair amount.

Erler
Gimme Anderson/Green on one team and Leonard/Ginobili on the other.

Wilco
I like that. Give Anderson the CoJo treatment. Let the starters cover for his weaknesses and leave the second unit under Manu's care.

Part two of this conversation, is coming soon....