6. Anfernee Simons' float game
The happiest subplot of a miserable Portland season is Simons looking like a surefire starter with some chance of stardom on offense. He's averaging 14 points on solid shooting, and almost 30 during his recent five-game tear.
Simons has a filthy first step -- powerful and fast. He's hitting enough 3s -- about 40%, though only 32% off the bounce -- that help defenders pressure him on the pick-and-roll. Simons roasts those guys in open space. His floater has been a revelation. He gets huge elevation, and lofts from odd angles going left or right.
Good freaking luck with that. Simons puts Claxton on skates with a vicious lefty hesitation dribble, and zooms into that super-long floater from the elbow -- a place where guys usually take normal jumpers. Buttery. He jumps so high, he can get this baby off in heavy traffic:
Simons has nailed an amazing 53% from floater range, per Cleaning The Glass. Portland has scored 1.09 points when Simons shoots out of a pick-and-roll, or passes to a teammate who launches -- fifth among 126 players who have run at least 200 such plays, per Second Spectrum.
The Blazers are only minus-5 in 283 minutes when Simons has played without both Lillard and CJ McCollum. Simons' next step is playmaking for others. He's a gunner, and over-dribbles setting up pick-and-rolls. Even so, you can see some early strides in his passing. The Blazers hyped up Simons for years, which makes you wonder: If they knew this was coming, should they have tried to trade McCollum?