During my Tuesday piece on Rawle Alkins, I briefly touched on fellow Arizona freshman guard Kobi Simmons. Within that piece, I mentioned that both Alkins and Simmons were five-star prospects and would immediately play as huge factors on a viable Pac 12 contender. After taking a look at Alkins on Tuesday, I thought it would be right to take a long look at his new back-court partner, Kobi Simmons.
Within that piece on Alkins, one of the first things that we touched on was how his muscular frame just stands at you. A similar thing can be said about Simmons, as the young guard will enter Arizona as one of the taller point guards in college basketball. Standing at 6’5, 175 pounds with a 6’7 wingspan, Simmons possess the frame that NBA teams have been looking for in that ideal modern-day point guard.
Although tall point guards have always been part of basketball, since the days of Oscar Robertson in the 1960’s, there’s been a bigger pursuit for those type of players over the last few years. Since the 2013 NBA Draft, every single point guard selected in the lottery, except for Trey Burke, have either been 6’4 or taller.
While it isn’t likely that Simmons will be joining that list of lottery-bound guards, there’s still plenty of reasons to be excited about his potential with Arizona. Much of that excitement is due to his work on the offensive end, as Simmons stands as an extremely dynamic weapon.
That was evident during his time in high school, as Simmons averaged 26.6 points and 3.9 assists per game on 49% shooting and 38% from beyond the arc. Simmons used that offensive firepower to help push his team, St. Francis High School, to back-to-back state championships in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Unlike most other young guards, Simmons doesn’t really have a go-to move on the offensive end. Simmons is equally proficient as an on-ball cutter, facilitator and perimeter shooter. Although that lack of a go-to move may be considered a small concern, it actually allows Simmons to be creative as an offensive weapon. That offensive creativity leads into Simmons being unpredictable, which allows him to have an immediate advantage over the opposition.
Despite being very versatile on the offensive end, Simmons still bases his offensive game around his perimeter jumper. The main reason for that is due to Simmons possessing this terrific shooting stroke that he can utilize whether he’s working off-the-dribble or through catch-and-shoot situations. There’s a certain decisiveness behind Simmons’ perimeter play, as he seems willing to shoot at the split-second that he gets in position.
As an on-ball cutter, Simmons continues to shine due to the combination of quickness and solid handles. Simmons possess a swift first step, which allows him to work his way past that initial perimeter defender. Following that initial breakdown, Simmons continues to shine on his way towards the paint as he utilizes side-steps or hesitation moves to maneuver his way past any opponent that may be in his way. An example of Simmons utilizing that side-step to his advantage is seen in the play below.
Although he’s established himself as a solid score-first point guard, Simmons shows plenty of promise as a facilitator. As is the case for most taller guards, Simmons does a nice job of utilizing his 6’5 frame to oversee the court, whether he’s driving to the paint or working on the perimeter.
On the perimeter, Simmons does a good job of quickly looking over the court and then making the necessary dish to an open teammate. A similar thing can be said about his work as a drive-and-dish facilitator, as Simmons does a wonderful job of making pristine passes as he’s working his way towards the rim.
Despite those clear skills as a facilitator, Simmons still needs to work on becoming more efficient in that area. During his senior season at St. Francis, Simmons averaged 3.9 assists and 2.8 turnovers per game, which creates a rather pedestrian 1.38 Ast/TO ratio.
No matter how much he shines as a scorer, Arizona head coach Sean Miller will have to depend on Simmons to do work as the team’s main facilitator. That ultimately means that Simmons will need to be more efficient in that area.
Simmons should have plenty of opportunities to make those needed adjustments, as he’ll be working with an Arizona roster that’s just filled with scoring options. Whether that’s working pick-and-rolls with Lauri Markkanen or Chance Comanche or pushing the ball to Allonzo Trier or Rawle Alkins, Simmons assist numbers should improve as he heads to Arizona.
Another area where Simmons shows promise is on the defensive end. Of course, much of that potential is due to Simmons’ solid 6’5 frame which could allow him to defend multiple positions. Alongside that, Simmons has exhibited a solid knack as a defensive ball-hawk that can constantly force steals whether he’s working in the passing lanes or not. That ability to force steals is seen in the play below, as Simmons does a great job of poking the ball away from the opposing player.
As Kobi Simmons embarks on his journey to Arizona, the young 6’5 guard has all the tools to stand as one of the best freshmen guards in college basketball. That status is due to just how versatile he is as an all-around player, as Simmons has established himself as a solid perimeter shooter, on-ball cutter and facilitator. Those skills could allow Simmons to be a player that you’d need to keep your eyes for years to come.