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Season in Review: Ko-Bae Simmons

Kobi may be a diamond in the rough for the Grizzlies

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Catch up on previous entries in our Season in Review series here.

Kobi Simmons

Team Points per Game Assists per Game FG% 3 Point FG% Off. Rating Def. Rating Net Rating PER Usage Win Shares per 48 min
Team Points per Game Assists per Game FG% 3 Point FG% Off. Rating Def. Rating Net Rating PER Usage Win Shares per 48 min
Grizzlies 6.1 2.1 42.3% 28.2% 94 115 -21 7.7 17% -0.013
Hustle 15.1 3.9 43.7% 36.10% 105 117 -12 12.7 22.3% 0.038
Stats provided by basketball-reference.com
Brandon Conner, NBA.com/stats

(Author’s Note: Grind City Media’s own Amara Baptist gets credit for the “Ko-Bae” reference)

There weren’t many expectations for Kobi Simmons going into the 2017-2018 season. The Grizzlies signed Kobi to a two-way contract after he went undrafted in the 2017 draft following his rookie season at Arizona. With Andrew Harrison, Mario Chalmers and Wade Baldwin IV battling it out for point guard minutes with the Grizzlies, most fans assumed Kobi would spent nearly all season down in Southaven with the Hustle.

After the hot start, the Grizzlies season quickly spiraled downhill, especially the point guard position. Wade Baldwin was cut, Mike Conley was hurt and neither Mario Chalmers nor Andrew Harrison did much to impress. Meanwhile, Kobi was down in Southaven putting up big numbers, flashing the potential that made him a 5 star recruit out of high school.

As Kobi impressed, the Grizzlies were careful not to exceed the 45 day limit the NBA enforces on two-way players, waited until the end of the season to give Kobi meaningful minutes. In those minutes, Kobi showed that he was capable of playing well against NBA competition and wasn’t just a G-League stud. Simmons has his struggles, but his rookie season in the association shows that the Grizzlies may have struck gold last summer when they signed Simmons to the franchise’s first two-way contract.

Best Game

Kobi’s best game came in the Grizzlies last home game of the season. He dropped 20 points to go along with 7 assists and just one turnover while shooting 7-10 from the field and 4-7 beyond the arc. With Chalmers the only other available point guard, Simmons got 32 minutes to showcase his skills and helped lead the Grizzlies to a victory over the Pistons.

The win over the Pistons showed the offense force Kobi can be when everything is clicking.

Worst Moment

Kobi’s “worst moment” was a 3 game stretch from March 30th thru April 4th where he averaged only 4 points a game, had issues shooting, and was sloppy in taking care of the ball. Kobi started all 3 games and played 20+ minutes but was extremely limited against the Jazz, Trail Blazers and Pelicans. Struggling late in the season against playoff teams isn’t the worst thing in the world, considering Kobi was playing with other G-Leaguers and bench warmers against these teams, but it was Kobi’s worst stretch once he started getting consistent time and minutes with the Grizzlies.

Things to Improve

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Offensively, Kobi was great for the Hustle/Grizzlies. He could score in bunches while also facilitate and keep his teammates involved. Defensively, Simmons was a disaster. He’s quick, but not nearly strong enough to keep opposing guards from bullying him with drives to the rim. Mentally, Kobi sometimes looked lost on defense, but that can be expected for a rookie and it’s not like the other Grizzlies were great on defense anyways.

Still, Kobi would benefit from bulking up and becoming a better defender. Whether it’s with the G-League or Grizzlies, he could really step up and become a defensive leader. The athleticism is there, the size should come. Hopefully Kobi can focus more on the defensive end next season to improve his numbers.

Overall Season Grade

Simmons impressed but didn’t dominate in his minutes with the Grizzlies. He dominated with the Hustle, but still had games where he disappeared. However, considering the low expectations for Simmons, it’s hard not to give him a good grade on the season.

Simmons went from an afterthought in Southaven, to a guy that many see as the future backup to Mike Conley. Simmons’ play should give him the 3rd point guard role for the Grizzlies next season and could even put up a challenge to Andrew Harrison for the backup role, although it’s worth noting that Harrison looked great at the end of last season.

At the end of the day, Kobi bet on himself declaring for the draft and took advantage of the opportunity the Grizzlies organization gave him.

Grade: B+

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