After an arduous four month off-season, the NBA made its long-awaited returned on Tuesday night. Heading into that small slate of evening games, most of the focus was either on Kevin Durant’s Warriors debut or the Cleveland Cavaliers receiving their championship rings. Despite the fantastic performances from LeBron, Kawhi or KD, there was one player that enticed the basketball universe on Tuesday night: Jonathon Simmons.
In the San Antonio Spurs 129-100 blow out victory over the Golden State Warriors, Simmons shined by putting up 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block on 8-14 from the field and 3-5 from beyond the arc in only 28 minutes. Despite how terrific those numbers might be, they only tell a portion of the story when it comes to Simmons opening night performance.
Throughout the game, Simmons continuously impressed with impressive performances on both ends of the court. Offensively, Simmons stood as one of the Spurs more vital offensive weapons as he was always there to make an on-ball cut or hit a big perimeter jumper. In both areas, Simmons made two incredible-jaw-dropping plays that just lit up Basketball Twitter.
The first play was seenlate in the 2nd quarter, where Simmons hit a beautiful buzzer-beating perimeter jumper to cap off a tremendous 1st half performance.
That electrifying buzzer-beater was only the appetizer for Simmons, as he capped off the Spurs blowout win by posterizing JaVale McGee.
Jonathon Simmons posterizes JaVale McGee to end the blowout. https://t.co/JYH6MCug2b— RealGM (@RealGM) October 26, 2016
Those Vine-worthy plays weren’t just reserved for the offensive end, as Simmons saved his best work for the defensive end. In pure LeBron James fashion, Simmons put the Warriors fans at Oracle Arena in disbelief by laying a fierce chase down block on Stephen Curry.
This incredible opening night performance tips off Simmons’ second season with the San Antonio Spurs. Prior to his debut in 2015-16, Simmons applied his craft in the NBA D-League with the Austin Spurs. That journey started in September 2013, where Simmons paid $100 to try out for the then Austin Toros (now Austin Spurs) for just an opportunity to get his foot in the door.
Simmons capitalized on that opportunity as he ended up making the roster and having a pretty solid rookie year. During that 2013-14 season, Simmons averaged 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game on 52% from the field and 28% from beyond the arc.
In the following season, Simmons continued to improve on his all-around game to the point where he transitioned from a solid NBADL role player to arguably one of the best wings in the entire league. During that 2014-15 season, Simmons impressed by putting up 15.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 49% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc. Simmons’ leadership pushed the Spurs to a solid 32-18 record.
Despite that impressive sophomore campaign, it was actually the Brooklyn Nets that invited Simmons to compete on their Summer League squad to compete in Orlando Summer League. During that brief Orlando stint, Simmons averaged 12 points and 4.7 rebounds per game on 42%. In typical Spurs fashion, San Antonio was able to snatch up Simmons from Brooklyn’s grasps on a 2 year/$1.4 million contract.
Just three years ago, Simmons stood as a 24-year-old fighting between pursuing his NBA dreams or working a 9-to-5 to help support his four young daughters. The combination of ferocious drive and a wee bit of luck has pushed Simmons from being a dreamer to an important part of a possible NBA title contender.
Even if his future remains uncertain, Jonathon Simmons remains a shining example of why everybody should reach for the stars, no matter what obstacles may be in your way.